Reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC have announced the appointment of Tamil Nadu-born former India forward Syed Sabir Pasha as their new assistant coach and head of grassroots development, replacing Vivek Nagul who parted ways with the club on mutual terms.
Nagul was part of the support staff that oversaw a semi-final run in the first season and followed it up with a sensational title win, with the topsy-turvy finale in Goa sure to remain in fans’ minds for a long time.
Pasha, on the other hand, had been heading the AIFF Elite Academy since 2014 and drafting him in brings more of a local influence to a side who had no local players making an appearance last season. Only Tamil Nadu-born player Dhanapal Ganesh was within their ranks but was sidelined throughout the tournament with an injury.
Speaking exclusively to Goal, Nagul revealed that he is in discussions with a couple of clubs but his next move is still undecided. He also expressed great joy at having the opportunity to work under Chennaiyin FC head coach Marco Materazzi.
“Working with Chennaiyin was a great experience for me. I learnt a lot working with Marco and the various top international players. If I get an opportunity to work with them again, I surely will. Also, I believe it was the right time to move on in my career, as [Jose] Mourinho said that the best time to move out is with a trophy,” felt the Pune-born man who idolizes former Chelsea manager.
Speaking about the opportunity on hand, Sabir Pasha, formerly the head coach of Indian Bank, Tamil Nadu and India U19, made it clear that he was taking nothing for granted.
“I am grateful to the Chennaiyin FC management for giving me this opportunity. My aim is to work hard and be worthy of the faith reposed in me by Chennaiyin FC,” said the south Indian fanchise's newly appointed assistant coach in a press release.
Co-owner Vita Dani also took the opportunity to both welcome their new man and to convey her regards to the title-winning assistant on behalf of the club.
“We would like to thank Vivek for his contribution during the first two seasons and wish him the very best for the future. We welcome Sabir and I am confident that the first team and the club’s grassroots program will benefit from his experience,” she stated.