The first half of the Indian Super League drafts came to an end in a two day event. The event includes 14 rounds, equally spread between the 22nd and the 23rd of July 2014.Team Goa and North East United FC stayed out of the drafts as they hand picked players from Dempo SC and Shillong Lajong FC respectively for their domestic quota The draft saw 42 players go under the hammer on Day 1, after being headhunted by eight different franchisees from all parts of India. The Hard Tackle takes a look at the players bought and the key signing of each franchisee involved
Pune City FC
The Pune based franchisee started their bandwagon with the signing of Lenny Rodrigues. Dharmaraj Ravanan, Ashutosh Mehta, Joaquim Abranches, Pritam Kotal, Manish Maithani and Israil Gurung completed the drafts for the franchisee co – owned by Salman Khan.
Key Signing : Lenny Rodriguez
Lenny Rodriguez was the first to be drafted in by Pune City FC in the First Round. The Goa-born Rodriguez turned professional at the mere age of 17 when he represented dissolved club Fransa-Pax FC, a club whose dissimulation saw him train with Salagaocar FC for more than one and a half year. After turning down a contract with Salagaocar, Rodriguez got the unpredictable dream move to the the club he supported as a child, Churchill Brothers. It is in the gallows of Margao, that Rodriguez developed and evolved into the player that he is now. After winning the I league in his first season (2008-09), Rodriguez went out to play crucial roles in his teams wins at the Durand Cup and IFA Shield both in the year 2009. He also played a vital role in his team’s 2-1 win against Mohan Bagan in the 2011 IFA Shield. Often known for putting the needs of the team ahead of his own, the midfielder who started playing as a striker, adopted and improvised his defensive aspect of the game. Lenny Rodriguez is one of the most versatile players in the I league, with the 27 year old played as a Midfielder, Striker, a Defensive midfielder and even a make shit Center Back to fill in the boots of an injured player.
The Ranbir Kapoor co-owned and promoted side snatched players such as Subrata Paul, Lalrindika Ralte, Syed Rahim Nabi, Raju Gaikwad, Subash Singh, Ram Malik, Deepak Mondal, from the crutches of the seven other participating teams. Without a Shadow of doubt Team Mumbai have signed some of the best players around.
Key Signing : Subrata Paul
No introduction is needed for the ‘Indian Spiderman’, Subrata Paul. Having belted a 10year long career divided between spells at both the Bengal based clubs, Mohan Bagan and East Bengal, Paul is one of the top goalkeepers in the I league. The Sodepur born goalkeeper has played vital roles for both his club and county. His jaw dropping saves especially in the Finals saw India qualify for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in over 24 years, even in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, Paul made close to 40 incredible saves, dubbing him as the ‘real MvP’ and enforcing him with the nickname of ‘Indian Spiderman’. Subrata Paul is one of the most dominant goalkeepers who inhibits the characteristics of a wall between the goal scorer and the goal, whenever he inserts his hands into the shining goalkeeping gloves.
Kerala Blasters FC:
The Kerela Blasters began their party by allowing players such as Mehtab Hussain, Sandesh Jhingan, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gurwinder Singh, Nirmal Chettri, Sushant Matthew, Godwin Franco, to join them. The Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side has after much needed discussion signed a crop of talented players.
Key Signing : Mehtab Hussain
Mehtab Hussain who operates as a defensive midfielder has played one of the most important key roles for his club and country. Representing India several times, Hussain played a vital role in the 2013 SAFF Championships in which India finished runners-up after losing to Afghanistan in the Finals. The West Bengal born player started his playing career with Tollygunge Agragami. After delivering consistent levels of performances, Hussain was snapped up by Mohun bagan. In Bagan, Hussain developed into one of the most finished products. His unmatched stamina and covering ground has helped the team evolve. 3 seaons with Bagan saw a failed move to ONGC FC, subsequently Hussain was signed by East Bengal. In a career spreading over 13years divided between both the Bengal Clubs, Hussain has accumulated as massive 168 appearances, scoring just 11 times in the process. It is clearly evident by the statistics that Hussain lives to give his heart out on the pitch defensively.
Team Bengaluru started their bidding with Harmanjot Khabra. Soon the likes of experienced Dhanachandra Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Gouramangi Singh followed. The day was completed with the signings of Shilton Paul, Denson Devadas and Khelemba Meitei.
Key Signing : Jeje Lalpekhula
One of the most talented player in the country, Jeje has been dubbed many things from the new Bhutia to the new Chhetri. The Mizoram born striker has fascinated the country with his pace, scoring record and finishing. Jeje, is perhaps the one of the best signings of the Bengaluru based club, having scored 37 times in 95 appearances, it is clear that his goal scoring prowess can be compared to only a few. The striker has a mix of experience and youth (23 years old), which can be beneficial to the newly found franchisee.
Atletico de Kolkata
The Kolkata based club executed a perfect game plan with the signings of Cavin Lobo, Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco, Rakesh Masih, Mohammed Rafique, Mohammed Rafi and Biswajit Saha. However the Atletico Madrid co-owned side will look to harness these players and turn them into better and more classy players.
Key Signing : Arnab Mondal
The East Bengal Central Defender is one of the most exciting and experienced players in the I league. At the age of just 24, the Behala born Central Defender has bagged more than 80 appearances for his clubs Prayag United and East Bengal. He has been one of the pillars of defense of both the clubs he played for, his defensive sensibility and reading also earned him a national call-up against Qatar in the 2012 Olympic Qualifiers. In Mondal, Atletico de Kolkata has signed an experienced, graced with a touch of youth Center Back which his highly unlikely and rare to find.
Delhi Dynamos FC
After much permutation and combination the Delhi side signed Francis Fernandes, Robert Lalthamuana, Naoba Singh, Shylo Malswamtluanga, Shouvik Ghosh, Shouvik Chakraborty and Munmun Lugun. Their affiliations with Dutch club Feyenoord will benefit the crop of young talent that they have gone after.
Key Signing : Francis Fernandes
The Goan Right Winger is one of the most existing and awe-spiring players to grace the I league. After signing for second division club Vasco SC , Fernandes started to evolve from the kid who played football for his school Regina Mundi. However after 2 season with Vasco , Fernandes was signed by Salgaocar in 2006, wherein the evolution was complete. A national callup came subsequently in 2011 and Fernandes delivered some mesmerizing performances whenever he was called on, even as a substitute. With speed and precision coming hand in glove with the 28year old, Francis often is known for his hardworking and untired running off -the ball.
Team Goa started with the signing of Laxmikant Kattimani. Soon Debabrata Roy, Gabriel Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Jewel Raja Shaikh followed. The day was ended with the business conclusion of Alwyn George and Narayan Das.
Key Signing : Clifford Miranda
Clifford Miranda started his club career with Dempo SC a second division club back in 2000 wherein he led them to lift the National League title five times and the Indian Federation Cup in 2004. Miranda has been one of the most decent and integral part of the team be it a club level or international level. He has the rare ability to dribble and deliver accurate crosses operating as a left winger from the left side of the field. Silver-wares have too not eluded the Goan player at national level, playing crucial roles in the Nehru Cup winning sides of 2007 and 2009. Clifford Miranda is an epitome of experience, class and consistency.
North East United FC
The John Abraham co-owned side bought Kunzang Bhutia, Jibon Singh, Durga Boro, Aibor Khongjee, Zodingliana Ralte, TP Rehnesh and Boithang Haokip. With almost all the players coming from native club Shillong Lajong.
Key Signing : Aibor Khongjee
Aibor has he is affectionately called, started his playing career with local team Shillong Lajong. After a decent premier season with the club, Aibor was consequently signed by I league club East Bengal. After a injury hit maiden season, Aibor subsequently back to the club where he started his career, Shillong Lajong. He was made captain for the 2009-10 I league season for the Mizoram Based club. Inspiring performances much like his idol John Terry, enabled Indian power houses Mohan Bagan to bag his signature for the 2012-13 season. Aibor has been one of the consistent performers on the pitch, however he has lost a little touch of his previous self since his injury, still Aibor is one of the most experienced defenders gracing the I league since his career started in 2006.
The first day of the ISL drafts completed with a bang. The teams look quite satisfied with the players they got, however in a wider perspective Team Mumbai owned the day. The signings of regular members, who feature for the National Team adds an already based chemistry to the team, with the inclusion of a pinch of youth in Ram Malik. With almost all of the signings coming with excess of experience, the Ranbir Kapoor owned franchisee has emerged as top victors of the first day of drafts.