Royal Wahingdoh retain Bewar and Okechukwu

Newly promoted Royal Wahingdoh are slowly but steadily stepping into top gear to take part in the I-League as the newly promoted team...

Royal Wahingdoh are in the process of evaluating their options as they look forward to appointing an experienced coach for their I-League sojourn. Though they did initiate talks with Santosh Kashyap, not much has materialized since then.

"We are still evaluating all our options. Ideally we could tell you more once May winds up and we get into the nitty-gritty of planning for the new season in full swing,” informed Anopp Abraham, general manager of the north eastern side.

Abraham said that they were in talks with several Indian and foreign coaches for that matter, but talks would intensify in the coming months.

"Since the I-League starts in December, we are taking things slowly now. We have indeed spoken to a few managers but we would rather wait for the ISL (Indian Super League) teams to name their managers, as financially we wouldn't be able to compete with these behemoths."

Abraham did reveal that they had retained two of their foreign recruits who had played a key role in securing their promotion while also highlighting that they are a club who like to hold on to their talent instead of splurging money.

"We have retained Bekay Bewar, the Liberian and Loveday Okechukwu, the Nigerian defender for the next season. Moreover we have a young local talent base and we would like to retain them."

On being asked about what he thought about the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) dictum over the marquee player for the I-League clubs, Abraham refused to comment but highlighted that for them the priority is the coach with the right credentials and also to secure the licensing criteria, even though they have been given a temporary reprieve.

Another official at the club who refused to be named was however, more forthright as he said that the marquee player system was 'a little drastic'.

"The marquee player concept has certain merit on paper (technical expertise & experience filtering down to others), but imposing this condition on everyone is a little drastic. I-league clubs have qualified on sporting merit and should be free to play whomsoever they wish. Big name players have not yielded great results while unknown players have become big names. All we are saying is that this should not be insisted upon as it also has a direct effect on the budget."

He drew the potent analogy that the system would propagate players only 'joining for money'. In his words, “Why would a sprinter who completes 100m in 10 seconds join the Indian players who do the same in 15 seconds, but for money?”

The official said that even the current four foreigner rule did not help the growth of Indian football at all and he would rather be happy if all eleven players were Indians.

He also stressed the need of the rule in the first place drawing some examples from last season. When high profile players like Billy Mehmet (Dempo SC) flopped in the I-League while Bengaluru FC who did not rely on their foreign signings to score instead went on to win the league.