The Hero Indian Super League has completed six glorious seasons and has seen some distinguished figures managing the various clubs over the years. From 2014, several coaches have taken up the challenge of displaying their tactical skills in this gruelling league, which includes some of the biggest names in world football like Zico, David James, Roberto Carlos, Gianluca Zambrotta, John Gregory, Phil Brown and David Platt.
The success of the coaches has heavily resided on how fast they have been able to adapt to the Indian environment and how well has the players understood their playing philosophy. Here we take a look at those head coaches whose Hero Indian Super League journey has been filled with extreme success.
ANTONIO LOPEZ HABAS
The Spaniard has all the qualifications to be adjudged as the best head coach the Hero Indian Super League has ever witnessed. He is the most successful when it comes to trophies, managing to lift the prestigious title two times with ATK FC in 2014 and then in 2019-20.
His acumen in setting up his squad for different oppositions is second to none. Known to be a strict and disciplined taskmaster, Habas improves most players when they play under him. In 2019-20, we saw him promoting young talent with Sumit Rathi, Prabir Das and Michael Soosairaj having breakthrough seasons under him. Alongside this, he managed a win percentage of 57.14, which is the joint-highest in the competition’s history.
Habas will always be fondly remembered in history as the first-ever head coach to win the Hero Indian Super League title. His love story with the league will continue as he was announced the head coach of the merged entity of ATK FC and Mohun Bagan – ATK-MB.
In just his first year in the Hero Indian Super League, Carles Cuadrat managed to lift the title with Bengaluru FC in the 2018-19 season. His team topped the table and went on to win the final against FC Goa, courtesy an injury-time winner from Rahul Bheke. Cuadrat still holds the joint-highest record of win percentage of 57.14 in a single season. He got the best out of the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Xisco Hernandez, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Miku as Bengaluru went on to lift their first title.
The defending champions were uncharacteristically off-colour in 2019-20 but still managed to make it to the playoffs before losing to the eventual champions ATK FC in the semi-finals. It’s pretty clear that Bengaluru aren’t going to fade away and will be genuine title contenders in the next season under their Spanish head coach.
Marco Materazzi was the marquee player-cum-head coach of Chenniayin FC during their first three seasons in the Hero Indian Super League. He had a decent start to his career in the league before crashing out of the semi-finals in the inaugural season. He subsequently went on to clinch the trophy in his second season and that marked the first of the two titles the Marina Machans have won till date.
A dismal show in the third season saw Materazzi’s Indian stint coming to an end, causing a dent in his overall win percentage. Chennaiyin played 47 matches under the 2006 World Cup winner, where they came out on top 19 times and had a win percentage of 40.43.
FC Goa under head coach Sergio Lobera has played some scintillating football, arguably the best the league has ever seen. Even though the Spaniard hasn’t managed to lift the Hero Indian Super League trophy till date, he has won the Hero Super Cup alongside the 2019-20 League Winners’ Shield with the Gaurs.
The team has played expansive football with flair under Lobera. The emphasis on dominating possession and scoring loads of goals has been his philosophy since day one in the league. With him at the helm, Goa gave us a glimpse of ‘tiki-taka’ football, ensuring that whenever they took to the ground they were a spectacle to watch in action.
In 56 matches over three seasons, FC Goa had scored 116 goals under the Spaniard with a win percentage of 51.78. In recent times, after parting ways with Goa, he has been heavily linked with Mumbai City FC and hopefully, the Indian fans can get to see more of Lobera in the Hero Indian Super League.
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