Mumbai: Experienced footballers Sandip Nandy, Climax Lawrence, NP Pradeep and Steven Dias were among the home-grown stars picked on day two of the domestic players draft for the Indian Super League, here on Wednesday.
A total of 84 players were on offer in the two-day draft process that concluded yesterday.
Former India goalkeeper Nandy was among the first from the second lot of 42 players to be chosen by Kerala Blasters — a team co-owned by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar and coached by successful ex-East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan. Midfielders Lawrence, Dias and Pradeep had to wait till the last few rounds before being picked by Atletico de Kolkata, Delhi Dynamos and Bengaluru respectively.
Among the others to be picked were Sanju Pradhan and Mehrajuddin Wadoo who were chosen by Kolkata and Pune franchises respectively.
Several talented youngsters were also picked by the six franchises over the last two days while two other franchises — Goa and North East FC — announced their pickings — done prior to the draft — after each round.
The first lot of 42 players was picked on day one of the draft on Tuesday. The player pool was a mix of seasoned, experienced senior national players and promising young talents from across the country. In terms of playing positions, the ISL draft pool had 27 attackers (forwards and wingers), 21 midfielders, 26 defenders and 10 goalkeepers. It also included 30 players on loan from four I-League clubs, as well as free agents who have been centrally contracted.
ISL has also made provision of additional seven players in the Central Reserve Pool to serve as future replacements in case of injuries or other emergencies.
Speaking to reporters, Dias said he was very excited to be playing for Delhi.
"I have always enjoyed playing in Delhi during the Nehru Cup and Durand Cup," he said.
He also said that the ISL will help Indian footballers "get to know where we belong and to learn from international footballers".
Lawrence, on free transfer from Goa, will be back playing in Kolkata where he had played for I-League clubs before and said ISL needed experienced players too.
"There will be international players too. I am looking forward to the kick off," he said.
Current international Gouramangi Singh, picked on Tuesday by Sun Group-owned Bengaluru franchise, said he was very happy that he would be playing in the IPL-style event.
"A lot of people and a lot of my friends are waiting for ISL to kick off. I am not saying ISL is going to change everything in Indian football. But it's a big step and we are on the right track," he said.
Mehtab Hossain, picked by Kerala Blasters on Tuesday and a big fan of Tendulkar, said he would try and talk to his idol about injury comebacks.
"I am proud to be in Sachin's team. He's my idol. I will try and learn about injury comebacks if I get a chance to talk to him," he said.
Tendulkar suffered a number of injuries and also underwent a few surgeries during his glittering 24-year international career that ended last November. Both players hailed the hiring of Morgan as the team coach, saying the Australian knew how exactly they played and was very good at man management.
Sun Group's Chief Information Officer Ananth Nagarajan said that the Bengaluru franchise and Bengaluru FC, the I-League champions, would form a joint venture in the near future.
"I can't put a time frame," he said.
Asked whether the draft was less exciting than the players' auction, he said, "Draft is more predictable than the auction".
Sun Group also owns the Sunrisers Hyderabad IPL franchise. The international players' draft would be held next month featuring 49 players.