After a great season with the Mizoram side Aizawl FC, Khalid Jamil will descend the north-eastern hills to take over the Kolkata side East Bengal. Khalid performed magic with Aizawl FC by guiding them to the summit of the I-league, whereas East Bengal had a season to forget as their challenge under Aussie coach Trevor Morgan petered out in the final phase of the league.
Khalid Jamil will be eager to prove himself by managing a Kolkata club and ascertain that his incredible run with Aizawl FC was not just a flash in the pan. According to reports, Khalid has signed a deal worth 1.25 crores for two years, which will make him the highest earning Indian coach ever.
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the upcoming football season, but East Bengal has been very quick in snapping up players and the head coach. A positive sign, as the club, seems to be taking the CFL campaign that will start in August quite seriously. A good performance in the CFL could be a good platform to build upon for the other bigger challenges that are awaiting the team in the next season.
East Bengal roping in the I-league winning coach shows a positive intent from the club, and this also offers some relief for their fans and the supporters of other I-league clubs as well. With news of clubs pulling out and shutting down flying thick and fast, this move by East Bengal might just force some other clubs to rethink their options and might want to test the waters for some more years.
After a lot of drama, East Bengal missed out on their chance to play in the Indian Super League due to differences on certain terms they had to agree to join the league. And with AIFF scheming to hold both the leagues (ISL & I-league) in parallel, there are concerns that I-league clubs will not be able to retain the best players as they will struggle to compete with financially sound ISL franchises. However, Khalid Jamil remained entirely oblivious to these changes as he quipped “Football will remain the same, be it ISL or I-League,” during the unveiling.
East Bengal has not had the best of its time in the top tier of Indian football ever since National Football League was re-branded to I-league in 2007. With a set of an explosive fan base and an equally crazy management to deal with, it would be interesting to see how Khalid Jamil’s foray into Kolkata Football would unfold.
Perhaps, Khalid is the answer for that ever evading I-league trophy!