ISL kicking up buzz with Carlos arrival

Mumbai, July 2

Amid talks of former Brazil and Real Madrid defender Roberto Carlos joining the Delhi team as marquee manager, the second season of the Indian Super League is kicking up the same kind of buzz that preceded the inaugural dition of the tournament.

The eight-team league kicked off with a rousing start last year with Brazilian Zico headlining the managers’ list and marquee players including Italian duo Alessandro Del Piero and Marco Materazzi, and Frenchman Nicholas Anelka. While Zico has returned for his second year at the helm of FC Goa, who also signed Carlos’ 2002 World Cup-winning teammate and former Bayern Munich defender Lucio as their marquee player, the Mumbai team retained Anelka as player-cum-coach.

Carlos, who was part of the Brazilian World Cup squads that reached the 1998 final and that won the tournament in 2002, is expected to replace Dutchman Harm van Veldhoven, under whom Delhi finished at fifth spot last year. The Delhi team refused to confirm Carlos’ signing yet the deadline for registering the coaches of the ISL teams passed on Wednesday.

Former India coach Armando Colaco welcomed the arrival of Carlos, who was the manager of Turkish side Akhisar Belediyespor last season. “Anybody who comes from a higher level of football has a lot to offer to India,” Colaco told Reuters. “He has played under the best coaches at Real Madrid and Brazil and will be able to pass on valuable knowledge here. It is now upto the Indian players and coaches to grasp on to his knowledge.”

The 62-year-old Zico, who was an outstanding creator and goalscorer for Brazil and played in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, has also coached in Brazil, Japan, Turkey, Russia, Greece, Iraq and Qatar. Carlos was considered one of the best left-backs of his generation and was also famous for his speedy overlaps and curling free kicks. However, not everyone is convinced Carlos the manager will have the same impact in promoting the game in India as he could have done as a player for a nation ranked 141 by FIFA.

“Apart from initial excitement it will have no long-standing impact on Indian football,” soccer writer Jaydeep Basu told Reuters. “He’s not coming on a long-term coaching role and he won’t be seen in action on the field. People initially will be at the ground to see him but the craze will eventually faze out,” he added.