How all clubs fared at Hero ISL Player Draft
The battle lines have been drawn and the stage is set for the fourth season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) after Sunday’s Player Draft at St. Regis in Mumbai. The clubs now know what they have at their disposal following 15 draft rounds that saw them meticulously assemble their squad and collectively sign 134 players ahead of the new season.
The Player Draft witnessed plenty of movement with some players moving to new teams, while others were re-signed by their old clubs. Jamshedpur FC and Delhi Dynamos FC were involved in all 15 rounds since they had to build their squad from scratch.
FC Pune City joined them in the draft in the second round before the entry of the rest of the teams in the next, except Chennaiyin FC, who entered the draft in the fourth round since they had retained the maximum players amongst all 10 teams. The teams also had to keep in mind the developmental player quota, which makes it mandatory to have at least two under-21 talents in their squad. However, it was the familiar faces that created the biggest stir in the draft.
Two-time winners Atlético de Kolkata enjoyed the draft and roped in some very talented individuals to add to their squad, which already featured the retained goalkeeper Debjit Majumder and defender Prabir Das. Head coach Teddy Sheringham and technical director Ashley Westwood added to their firepower with the acquisition of target-man Robin Singh and Jayesh Rane.
They also bolstered their midfield by drafting Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who was the joint-most expensive player in the draft. Keegan Pereira and Augustin Fernandes, who had both represented ATK at some point in the past, will also return to the City of Joy for the upcoming season. Former Mumbai City FC defenders Anwar Ali and Ashutosh Mehta are other notable additions to their defence.
Hero ISL debutants Bengaluru FC were one of the most prolific spenders in the draft and added the likes of Rahul Bheke, Harmanjot Khabra, Alwyn George, Lenny Rodrigues and Boithang Haokip to the team. The youngest hat-trick scorer in the Hero ISL, Thongkhosiem Haokip will also ply his trade in the Garden City and surely sharpen Bengaluru’s attack that already boasts names such as Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh in their ranks.
Hero ISL 2015 champions, Chennaiyin FC ensured they were reunited with Dhanachandra Singh, Thoi Singh and Dhanpal Ganesh. Other additions include Fulganco Cardozo, Keenan Almeida, Sanjay Balmuchu, Francisco Fernandes and Mohammed Rafi, who will be jostling for a spot at the tip of their attack with retained star Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Delhi Dynamos FC were the only other team besides Jamshedpur FC to feature in all rounds of the draft. The Lions signed Albino Gomes, who had some stellar showing in goal for Mumbai City FC last year. Their backline has some solid Hero ISL experience courtesy of Pritam Kotal, Sena Ralte and Pratik Chowdhary. Seityasen Singh, Vinit Rai and Romeo Fernandes, on the other hand, will be looking to contribute in the final attacking-third.
FC Goa are also set for their fair share of reunions with old players after Pronay Halder, Pratesh Shirodkar and Narayan Das were picked by the Gaurs. Former Dynamos defender Chinglensana Singh and local winger Brandon Fernandes will bring defensive solidity and attacking flair to the squad. Meanwhile, FC Pune City chose a different approach, opting for a younger squad than their competition. Jewel Raja, Baljit Sahni and Kean Lewis are some of the more familiar names in the Stallions camp.
The league’s other debutants Jamshedpur FC, however, decided to use a completely different strategy compared to that of Pune. They decided to invest their faith heavily in tried and tested players with Hero ISL experience like goalkeeper Subrata Paul, Robin Gurung, Yumnam Raju, Mehtab Hossain, Souvik Chakraborty and Bikash Jairu. Jamshedpur also signed Anas Edathodika, who along with Eugeneson, were the most expensive players in the draft.
Kerala Blasters FC are another team banking on players with Hero ISL experience. The Blasters chose to draft custodian Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and re-sign local boy Rino Anto. They enhanced their midfield with the signings of Milan Singh, Arata Izumi, Jackichand Singh and Siam Hanghal. Kerala also decided to give an opportunity to Ajith Sivan, who grabbed everyone’s attention as a Reliance Foundation Youth Sports talent.
In keeping with the theme of drafting players that have previously been part of the league, Mumbai City FC were perhaps the biggest exponents of this strategy. They signed Arindam Bhattacharja in goal and Raju Gaikwad, Aiborlang Khongjee, Kim Kima as well as Mehrajuddin Wadoo in defence. Abinash Ruidas, Sahil Tavora, Sanju Pradhan and Zakeer Mundampara are some of their midfield options, while Balwant Singh – the first domestic scorer in Hero ISL history – may lead their attack.
Lastly, NorthEast United FC demonstrated that they were ready to continue with their philosophy of acquiring as many local talents as possible. Nirmal Chettri, Robert Lalthlamuana and Reagan Singh will all appear in defence for the Highlanders, whereas Lalrindika Ralte, Lalrempuia Fanai, Hali Charan Narzary and Seiminlen Doungel will be hoping to contribute in attack.
Click here for a complete list of the Hero ISL squads so far.