All of us are waiting for roadmap of Indian Football to plan further, says Aizawl FC coach Stanley Rozario
He has signed an extension for two years and is raring to go ahead with his project but Stanley Rozario is waiting on the Indian Football league structure to proceed with his grand plans for Aizawl FC.
Rozario, a Bengaluru native, has committed to Aizawl until the end of the 2020-2021 season and is looking to build the team as one of the strongest in the country.
However, the league system is set to undergo a rejig and the Indian Super League (ISL) is expected to replace the I-League as the top division in India. Investment, coaching style, management of players and the vision would all change for clubs depending on the I-League's placing on the Indian football tiers.
But Rozario is clear on his plans for Aizawl, hoping to make them a champion team like in 2016-2017.
"I've signed a two-year deal with Aizawl FC and I want to build the team in a great way," Rozario, who was in Bengaluru for the Second Division League, said.
"But we're all waiting for a roadmap for Indian football and we're not quite sure yet what the status of the I-League will be.
"I think our pre-season will start in June. Apart from the Mizoram Premier League, I am also in touch with a couple of the other clubs to have a few pre-season friendlies. Let's see what happens."
Like Rozario, a couple of other I-League clubs and coaches are waiting for the All India Football Federation to take the final call with respect to the league structure.
Confident boost for Aizawl stars
Rozario took charge of Aizawl from Gift Raikhan on January 9 when the club was in the bottom pile with just 2 victories in 11 matches.
In the remaining nine games, Rozario inspired the club and its players to lift their game and led them to a seventh-place finish in the I-League.
Under Rozario, Aizawl secured four victories and drew thrice, against Real Kashmir, East Bengal and NEROCA, to end their campaign on a high.
Rozario has coached top teams in the country like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Shillong Lajong but the transformation he brought to the struggling Aizawl side is indeed commendable.
"When I took over Aizawl FC, what I saw was that the entire team lacked motivation. They kept losing matches and all of them felt like they are incapable of winning. That's what I had to change first up," Rozario said.
"The team was set when I went there. But the dressing room needed a huge confidence boost, along with a few change in the tactical play. That was the challenge before me when I went to Aizawl.
"I reminded them that they were the champions of India just a couple of years ago and they have the quality to compete against all the teams and beat them."
It reaped immediate results. The loss to Indian Arrows led to a dressing room shakedown but Aizawl were able to quickly recover and hold Real Kashmir to a goalless draw. They then scored 3 goals against Chennai City, losing 4-3 in a topsy turvy encounter before drawing with NEROCA in Imphal.
Rozario tasted victory first against defending champions Minerva Punjab and the team followed it up with impressive performances against Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
The victories over Gokulam Kerala in Kozhikode and Shillong Lajong and Churchill Brothers at home helped them to a respectable finish at the end of the season.
"Even the foreigners in the side were low when I first saw them," Rozario added.
"If you speak about Ansumanah Kromah, I told him that he has played for all the top clubs for India and has come to Aizawl. I told him that his game needs to be at the top level for AFC and gave him a confidence boost to perform better.
"Alfred Jaryan is almost treated like a local boy in Aizawl so I just needed to give him a certain push.
"It was the same with Richard Kassaga, the defender from Uganda who has extended his contract with Aizawl. Along with tweaking some of the tactics, these players needed motivation and I ensured they got enough."
With the I-League concluding in March and the team boycotting the Super Cup, the 2-1 win over Churchill on March 9 was the last game of the season for Aizawl under Rozario. But the 58-year-old, who served as an assistant coach to Bob Houghton from 2006-08, will be back soon when Aizawl play in the Mizoram Premier League later this year.
Will he be able to bring back Aizawl's glory days?