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Churchill Brothers coach Zoran Djordjevic made his name by becoming the first foreign coach to win the I-League title but amidst the moments of joy and euphoria, he didn’t hide his fear of his team being torn apart for the coming season.

He entered the Churchill Brothers training ground less than 72 hours before their opening I-League clash against Mahindra United, whom they had earlier lost in the Durand Cup finals. But they managed to beat the Red Devils 2-1 and thereafter, never looked back.

“I came at a critical moment as the team was destroyed psychologically and physically. I listened to the directors - the positive and negative and began my work. I convinced the players that if we love and stick together, we will be the champions. I behaved like a friend or a elder brother t the players. It was fantastic.

“I mentioned to the players that by being champions, you as a player would get better respect from not just your club but others as well. But what’s sad in Indian football is the football mafia who try to lure the players illegally. You see the game against Air India, where the goalkeeper (Arindam Bhattacharya) came out and conceded. The youngsters are being provoked,” said Zoran.

Of course, the Churchill players have drawn the attention of other clubs and it’s no surprise that officials of some of the big names in Indian football are seen roaming in Goa these days.

“I recommend Mr. Churchill that it’s not good to let these players go. If they leave, the next season would be a disaster for Churchill Brothers for sure. Look at Dempo, I feel they are unique in Indian football. They have kept most of their players and are the best side.”

With all the hype around the Goal 2011 project, Zoran Djordjevic is certainly one of those coaches who strongly despise the idea.

“I feel it’s a mentally retarded idea. It’s like thinking of a child – very unrealistic. Players develop only at clubs. The national team is made up of players who have done well at club level and then play some international friendlies.

“Every player who plays in the league has a right to dream about a place in the national team. It has to be an open system and you can’t just select a certain group of players. I feel sad for these guys who come out with such nonsensical proposals,” added the Serbian.

Zoran has his eyes focused on the Super Cup clash against Federation Cup champions whom they had thrashed 3-1 at home which turned out to be a key match for their season.  

Rahul Bali. 

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