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Goal caught up with the outgoing ONGC coach regarding his nomination for the FPAI Coach of the Year Award and also spoke to him about his roller-coaster ride, during the season...

The work Santosh Kashyap has done with ONGC this season is well documented. The former Air India coach took over the team, when they were bottom of the standings, and guided them to a mid-table finish.

His work has not gone unnoticed, with Kashyap earning a place in the shortlist for the FPAI Coach of the Year category.

When asked about how he felt after being nominated for the award, Santosh Kashyap said “I am a very young coach compared to other coaches and I feel it’s a great personal achievement to find myself in the top five coaches (category) this season.”

The season has been one that would best be described as a rollercoaster for the former Mohun Bagan coach.  Having been handed the pink slip by the Mohun Bagan officials after a poor start to the I-league campaign, he took over the reins at ONGC, working his magic with the team, even though he worked on a severely small budget. When asked about his experiences during this campaign, Kashyap commented, “Coaching is all about learning and I feel that I have become a better coach after my stint at Mohun Bagan. I was slightly unlucky with injuries and health of the players at my time there.  Many players had just come back from dengue during the Federation Cup. So, we had players who were sickness free but not match fit, yet I feel we did well in the tournament.”

“If I had got more time there, I think I could have done better. Of course, there was more pressure on the officials as the club is a big club and hence, results matter a lot," the coach, who is set to join Rangdajied United FC for next season, further added.

Kashyap also pointed out at the difference between the expectations at the two club.

“They are two teams with different objectives. Mohun Bagan is always looking to win games and the fan base, which is also massive, expects you to win games all the time, that’s the passion they have for the club and the game. At ONGC, the expectations are not really high as they seem to be in a relegation scramble all the time and they don’t really have a fan base comparable to Mohun Bagan. Also the media pressure is also something that I did not have to face at ONGC.“

When quizzed regarding what changes he implemented to lift the Oilmen up the table, the former Air India coach mentioned, “I set the targets for the players to reach the top 7. I also motivated the players, whose morale was down after a set of big losses, which was due to some poor defending. Also, I managed to implement my tactics and it worked to a large extent as the results have proven. The team is still weak in defence but there has certainly been improvement, and I am happy for that.”

Rangdajied United, the winners of the I-League second division, have signed on Kashyap to take over the reins at the club for the next season. When asked to give his thoughts on his future he added, “I have spoken to the club; after we start practice we will discuss the targets for the next season.  I feel confident and the experience I have gained will help me to put them in a better place.”

On the question of his transfer targets, for the next season, Kashyap revealed, “I haven’t decided yet. It all depends on the players they have kept and where they need players. It also depends on the availability of the players that we would be able to sign.”

The former Mohun Bagan coach was optimistic of his chances of winning the FPAI Coach of the Year Award, and commented, “I hope I win it. I feel I have done a good job this season with ONGC and the resources I had with me. Frankly speaking I have not signed any new players unlike other clubs and managed to improve what I had. I respect the other senior coaches who have been nominated as well. I have to be positive and I certainly hope I can win the award."