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Why would Technical Director Doru Isac’s role be bigger than the national coach

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Why would Technical Director Doru Isac’s role be bigger than the national coach

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Subhayan Dutta


The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has finally filled the vacant Technical Director’s position after almost two years as Romania’s Doru Isac took the job. And after Scott O'Donnell left the job abruptly after just one year, we try to debunk the importance of the designation in Indian football.

As far as having a technical director at the helm and him getting a long run to try and work out his plan is concerned, Indian football haven’t really had that since the last few years. And it is in those years that the nation has risen up in the FIFA rankings, hosted a U-17 World Cup successfully, and has seen some exciting talents coming up the ranks through the nation’s elite Indian Super League. Hence, one doesn’t need to be stressed upon the fact just how important Doru Isac’s appointment could be for India’s football future. 

Scott O’Donnell had cited family reasons while leaving the post abruptly in 2017 and although he had applied for it again this time, AIFF didn’t quite consider him for the job. Following him, former player and coach, Savio Medeira had been serving as the interim technical director of the national team. 

However, what’s concerning here has been the short run both of them were given by AIFF in that designation. O'Donell had worked with the AIFF for five years after first being appointed as the technical director for academies and coach education back in November 2011 before he was a technical director for only a year, following which Medeira could hold the position for just another year.

Mostly borrowed from the ways football clubs operate around the world, the functionality of a technical director ranges vastly from training players, to scouting talents, to build good relations with the government officials as well as corporates, who are funding the team. Of course, at a national level, the work gets trickier and way more challenging and if everyone has been of the opinion that a high profile coach could change the face of Indian football forever, they are wrong – that would much more rely on the technical director’s planning.

Doru Isac would not just be keeping a close eye on how top national teams are operated and come up with a successful roadmap, but one of his major responsibilities would be youth development. Hence, whether the I-League gets demoted to the second-tier or not, or the matches get broadcasted or not, Isac would be expected to have a close pair of eyes in those matches as well. 

While the ISL, which has been a fodder for the national team of late, would obviously be the hotbed of talent for him, Isac would also need to screen through the academies, districts, and states to find the best of talents. However, what’s good in all this is that although the AIFF has taken their sweet time to go through as many as 60 candidates before zeroing in on Isac, who looks to have a proper resume for pulling off this job.

Working in countries like France, Japan, United States, Romania, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, the FIFA Diploma holder started his career with managing academies in French clubs like AS Nancy and US Lillebonne, before he got a chance to assist the legendary Arsene Wenger during his time with Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan for five years.

However, as far as a major break was concerned, Isac finally got it when he was asked to be the assistant manager at one of Romania’s biggest club, Rapid Bucharest. He was already on the world map and started working his way up by overseeing youth development in Qatar and the US. As a manager, he worked for the Romanian U-19 national team and the U-23 side of Houston Dynamo.

In his near three decades of experience, Isac has worked with former Portugal and Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz and the experienced Bora Milutinovic with his last job being the sporting director of three-times J-league Champions Yokohama Marinos FC. Quite interestingly, the Japanese club saw the City Football Group investing in a minority stake with the investment specifically designed in offering an incorporated approach to football, marketing, media, commercial, training and medical care, which would be in tandem with the group’s other investments like Manchester City F.C., Melbourne City FC and the New York City FC. 

Hence, Isac isn’t only bringing a wealth of footballing experience but also the modern game’s technical know-how. Apart from youth development and detecting talent, one of Isac’s major duties would also be to train Indian coaches with an eye to make the nation self-sufficient in the footballing future.

Indian football is looking at a wealth of change in the coming days and the unknown outcome of it, even if apprehensive, has a tinge of excitement to it at the very core. Contrary to popular opinion that a technical director would be the medium between the coach and the federation, Isac could well be the changing face of Indian football with a more constant role amidst the changing managers in posterity. And while his welcome was tainted with visa issues that denied him entry into the country, we sincerely hope that his departure leaves a trail of football achievements in its wake.

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