Top 7 contenders who have applied to be new Indian Football Team head coach profiled
Since Stephen Constantine stepped down as the head coach of the Indian National Football at the end of the AFC Asian Cup 2019, in January, speculation had been rife as to who his successor would be.
While some reports even linked Sam Allardyce and Sven-Goran Eriksson to the role, it is now understood that even though the two did express interest, they have not applied for the top job.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is said to have received more than 40 applications for the job, and it is likely that a shortlist will be drawn out soon - as the deadline for the applications was shut on 29th March.
Here's a look at the top six candidates who have applied for the job.
#1 Albert Roca
Indian football fans, by now, need no introduction to Roca. The former Bengaluru FC head coach managed to carve out a niche for himself in his two years in Indian football, and quickly became one of the most respected figures in the game in the country.
Roca's Bengaluru played four finals in his two seasons in charge - making the final of the AFC Cup in 2016, the Federation Cup in 2017 and the ISL and Super Cup in 2018. Bengaluru won the Federation Cup and the Super Cup, but fell short in the AFC Cup and the ISL.
Roca's Bengaluru dominated the ISL league stages like no other side has in the five years of the competition, though, finishing eight points ahead of their closest competitor, and being the only side in the brief history of the ISL to have amassed 40 points in a single season.
Roca also took Bengaluru to being the first ever Indian side to reach the final of the AFC Cup - when they beat Johor Darul Ta'zim 3-1 in the second leg of the semifinal of the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. Bengaluru lost the final 1-0 to Iraq's Air Force Club, but had still trudged where no Indian club had been before.
Frank Rijkaard's assistant at Barcelona, Roca is now the favourite to take over as the Indian team's head coach, and it is not surprising. Roca has fair experience in Indian football, he's worked with many of the players in the current India squad before (Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Sandesh Jhingan, Nishu Kumar, Subhasish Bose), so it will not be an alien task for him to settle in to.
Can his style be implemented immediately with the national team? No. But, with time and unequivocal backing, it is not hard to see Roca building a philosophy and a method that Indian Football can follow for years to come.