‘We will build a strong squad to finish well in the first season of ISL’ : Dipendu Biswas

Mohammedan Club Officials
Mohammedan Club Officials (PC: Debasis Sen)

Mohammedan Sporting Club is well and truly building a strong squad ahead of the next season as they are set to take part in the ISL for the first time. The century-old club got promoted to the top-tier league after they won the I League this season. Apart from retaining most of the Indian players from last season, the Black Panthers have also extended the contract with Mirjalol Kashimov, Joseph Adjei and Alexis Nauhel Gomez. It will be a challenging task for Coach Andrey Chernyshov, who has been given an extension by the club management.

“It is a challenge. I firmly believe it is a team that wins a tournament. Even a team worth Rs 100 crores cannot win you a championship. Success of a team does not depend on an individual. Our coach has requested the club management to retain most of the players from last season. His vision is to concentrate on U-25 players with a target to do well in the ISL over the next three years. We must be realistic that it will be difficult to taste success in the first season but what we are focussing on is to do well in next three years,” club football secretary Dipendu Biswas told Revsportz.

Mohammedan suffered a big blow after David Lalhlansanga decided to switch allegiance to city rivals East Bengal. The striker from North East was one of the top performers for the club, having scored 34 goals in all competitions. The I League champions are in talks with Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia from Aizawl FC, who was recently named for the India camp in Bhubaneswar, ahead of the all-important FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Kuwait and Qatar.

Dipendu Said: “We were not dependent on any individual. We need players who fit in the system deployed by the coach. Yes, David will be a big blow given the way he performed for us last season. We are trying to rope in an Indian striker who can match the standard of David. We are in talks with Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia who has done well for Aizwal FC.”

He added, “We have some good players in the midfield like Angousana, Lalremsanga , Bikash and Barreto, who have done well last season. In defence, players like Zodingliana, Zudika, Samad, Irshad, James and Jasim did put up a decent performance. Padam Chhetri was outstanding in the goal. Apart from retaining these players, we are also in talks with few Indian players.”

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Dipendu Biswas
Dipendu Biswas (PC: Debasis Sen)

As far as the overseas recruits are concerned, the club management is looking for a striker, central defensive midfielder and a stopper. “We are already in talks. The coach has suggested to us to get a Latin American striker. Last season, we had Eddie from Honduras. We are trying to get a striker from Argentina who can bond well with compatriot Alexis. I have seen from my experience the foreign players get home-sick if they stay alone,” said Dipendu.”

He further added, “The coach has also suggested we get a midfielder and stopper preferably from an African nation like Morocco. We target to finish the team building by the first week of June.”

Few players who are on the radar are FC Goa’s Moroccan winger Noah Sadoi and Odisha FC’s Ahmed Zahou. There is also a defender from North East United FC defender and midfielder from Morocco.

“We had specific planning three seasons back and it culminated in winning the I league. We will once again build a strong squad to finish well in the first season of the ISL. We are aware that success will not come overnight,” Dipendu said.

Talking about the football budget, the club has got assurances from the investors. “The budget will be increased. It was about Rs 11 crores when we became runners up in the I league a couple of seasons back. It will increase by three to four times. The training facility is the same as East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. Our ground also looks in great shape. We will also use the facility in Salt Lake. We are also trying to keep the team in a complex where there is facility for gym and swimming pool,” signed off Dipendu.

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