ISL 2017: Delhi Dynamos director left flummoxed by ATK's decision
Pritam Kotal helped ATK to the ISL title last season.
The Delhi Dynamos, like most teams in the ISL Draft this year, chose to build from the back. And with their second overall pick in the draft in the second round, they picked up Pritam Kotal, the young Indian right-back who has been the first choice for Stephen Constantine in the position for the Indian national team.
The defender was also one of the most vital cogs for Atletico de Kolkata last season under their Spanish coach Jose Molina, helping the club to their second title in the space of three years in his first season with the club in the ISL. However, the club from Kolkata decided to overlook the Indian international and decided to rather retain Prabir Das, whose versatility at playing in various positions might have titled the decision in his favour.
However, for the Dynamos, he was a no non-sense pick at the top of the draft. Speaking to Sportskeeda after the draft the Director of team Rohan Sharma sounded delighted at getting the 23-year-old.
"I really couldn't believe that ATK didn't retain Pritam. He is such a good player and I had to get him. I was, in fact, lucky get my hands on him.
Fond of his pick, Sharma later went on social media to defend his pick.
The Dynamos leaned towards youth in the draft and decided to select players with their best years ahead of them with the likes of Albino Gomes, Romeo Fernandes, Pritam Kotal, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Seityasen Singh, Sukhadev Patil and Simranjeet Singh amongst their draftees.
Kotal has had a stellar last few years and Rohan Sharma's confidence in the player is certainly not misplaced. Initially playing for the Pailan Arrows in the I-League, Kotal started catching the attention when he broke out for Bagan in the 2013/14 season.
His consistency at the back and rampaging overlapping runs culminating in precise crosses into the box have been rewarded with a regular place at the back under Stephen Constantine after representing the country at the U19 and U23 level.
The 23-year-old was really pleased with the trust that the Dynamos put on him, selecting him so early on in the draft.
"I am honoured to be picked so early in the draft. It shows that the organisation has put a lot of faith in me and I would do everything to repay that," quipped the Indian international.
Except for the few months he spent away on loan at FC Pune City during ISL 2014 (was injured for most parts of the 2015 edition), the defender hasn't spent much time away from his hometown and that is something he sees as a challenge that he needs to overcome as he looks to spend a long time away from home with the ISL now stretched to being a five-month affair.
"This is the first I will be away from Kolkata and Mohun Bagan. I enjoyed some great time with the club but now I have to move on. Being away from my hometown is something I am not used to but that is a great challenge. But I am a professional and this can only help me grow," stated Kotal on the situation.
Kotal, in fact, had the highest number of crosses into the box for any Bagan player last season in the I-League - more than any midfielder. And the Delhi Dynamos will be hoping that he continues his progress going into the new ISL season.