Dodsal FC is the word doing the round in the Indian Football circles these days with almost all fans across the nation taking about the Mumbai-based club. The club formed in May this year has taken the nation by storm by reaching the Durand Cup finals and winning the Nadkarni Cup. With rumors of the possibility of signing Mikael Silvestre, the former Manchester United and Arsenal defender, Dodsal FC is aiming big and has made the right moves so far. TheHardTackle takes a look at the club, the players and their journey so far and also ponders the likely targets for the club in this season.
Dodsal FC – The Project
Dodsal group is owned by Rajen Arvind Kilachand who is based out of Dubai and is believed to be really close to the owner of Manchester City. After registering themselves with the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) as well as the Western India Football Association (WIFA), the club announced its plans to compete in this season’s I-League division 2 with an aim of qualifying for the top flight of Indian Football.
The club is based at Fr Agnel high school in Mumbai, which boasts of a multi-crore state of the art sports complex and a swimming pool. The club roped in as its chief coach Bimal Ghosh, the man who has unearthed many talents in Mumbai Football during his stay at Air-India. The most astute signing however was that of Mohammad Omar, the former UAE captain who has been now appointed as the CEO of Dodsal FC. A celebrated football player back home and a member of Al-Ain squad that won the AFC Champions League looks after the football-related issues of the clubs specially the transfers.
Dodsal FC – Team
The ambitious nature of the club attracted a lot of established Indian players to the club who signed for the club. Leading the defence is former Indian international Surkumar Singh, who brings with him a wealth of experience. Former East Bengal player Sunil Kumar and the 22-year-old Loukik Jadhav are other key defenders in the team. Arup Debnath, who has been roped in from Air-India along with Avijit Ghosh are the two keepers in the team.
The squad is led by the former Pune FC midfielder Paresh Shivalkar. Accompanying him in the midfield is NP Pradeep, who has rediscovered his touch with Dodsal after a forgetful last season with Mohun Bagan. Bikash Jairu is another midfield who has been impressive this season for the club. Former Indian international Mohammad Rafi leads the attack along with Thoi Singh and Demba Diakhaté. All three of the players have been on the score-sheet in the Durand as well as the Nadkarni Cup which augurs well for Dodsal as the division-2 nears.
A Look at Performance in Durand and Nadkarni Cups
Dodsal FC participated in their first Durand Cup and ended up as runners-up. Drawn in Group D, Dodsal routed Army Red and Punjab Police 3-0 and 6-0 respectively. Pradeep, Thoi Singh and Rafi scored twice in these group matches. Dodsal then clashed with Assam Rifles in the semifinals and edged their opponents in the penalty shoot-out. Former East Bengal player Sunil Kumar restored parity in the 80th minute after Rifles had taken the lead. Despite starting the final as favorites, Dodsal lost the final to Air-India as former national team players N.P. Pradeep, Surkumar Singh and Mohammad Rafi failed to score from the spots. Despite the loss Dodsal had announced its arrival on the big stage.
Dodsal then went on to win its first tournament – Nadkarni Cup. Putting in an inspired performance Dodsal routed Western Railway 7-0 in the semifinals with Rafi and Diakhate scoring two goals each while captain Paresh Shivalkar, Pradeep and Bikash Jairu scoring a piece each. Rafi opened the scoring as he tapped in a Jairu cross from the right and Diakhate scored the second as Dodsal went into the break leading 4-0. Dodsal then defeated Mumbai Customs 5-0 in the final with all the goals coming in the second half. Dodsal goalkeeper Arup Debnath had a busy first half and rescued Dodsal on numerous occasions with his superb efforts. Goals from Sunil Kumar, Rabindra Ghosh, Bikash Jairu and captain Paresh Shivalkar in the second half settled the match in favor of Dodsal.
An elated Arup Debnath who didn’t concede even a single goal in the entire tournament said
All we did was to follow the coach’s instructions. It took us till the second half to get into the groove, but the end result is what matters
Mikael Silvestre Linked to the Club
Mikael Silvestre in an interview to a German newspaper expressed his keenness to join Dodsal and said -
I have had the offer (from Dodsal FC) since the summer and now I have decided to accept it. At the end of October I will sign the contract. Until Christmas, we will stay at our old house (in Manchester), then we will sell it. In January 2013, I will join my new club. I have never been to India, this will be very exciting, a big adventure for me.
Despite Silvestre confirming his interest to a German newspaper, Dodsal CEO Mohmamad Omar has sounded cautious over the signing which is probably going to be the biggest signing in Indian Football history. Omar said that in addition to Silvestre, Dodsal is in touch with other big name players as well. The money involved and the ambitious nature of the club is sure to attract a lot of players to the club.
The Road Ahead
Dodsal will next be seen in action in the Governor Golds Cup in Sikkim after which the club will participate in the I-League division 2 in January. Dodsal have set an aim to qualify for the I-League for which they need to finish in the top two in the division 2 and with the quality of players at their disposal it looks like a realistic target. Dodsal owners have set themselves an aim to become one of the top clubs in Asia in the next five years.
Dodsal’s success will fill the long-standing void in Mumbai Football after the shut-down of Mahindra United, which enjoyed a lot of success on the national scene. With Air-India and Mumbai FC failing to raise their level of performances, Dodsal’s rise will give the people of the state a club to identify with and will provide a boast to the youngsters in the state.
The Indian Football fans will no doubt keep a close eye on Dodsal and its performance in the times to come as there are a lot of expectations from the club. The possible addition of Silvestre or other big name players will no doubt be an icing on the cake. All in all, Dodsal FC will be under the microscope in times to come.
Click here to read I-League Round 3 Previews