Okocha, Siasia Join Indian Football League

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Jay Jay Okocha
Jay Jay Okocha

Former Super Eagles captain, Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha on Monday joined Durgapur for $550,000 (about N89m) in the inaugural Indian football league.

Okocha’s former tam mate and immediate past Super Eagles coach Samson Siasia will coach Jay-Jay’s Durgapur for $210,000 (about N34m) while former youth international, Robert Egbeta will be teaming up with Kolkata for $350,000 (about N56m).

Okocha told KickOffNigeria.com he was thrilled about the prospect of the novel challenge.

“I’m very excited about it and I am looking forward to kickoff. It’s a new challenge for me, and I hope to help them as much as I can,” he said.

A further breakdown of other players that will be on parade in the India’s Premier League Soccer tournament to be held in the eastern state of West Bengal in March-April this year include former Argentina striker, Hernan Crespo who was the most expensive player in the auction on Monday. The Argentine was bought for $840,000 by Barasat.

Italy’s World Cup-winning captain, Fabio Cannavaro, was the next most expensive costing Siliguri $830,000.

Former France midfielder player Robert Pires went to Howrah for $800,000 and ex-England striker Robbie Fowler was taken by Kolkata for $530,000.

Apart from these five ”icon” players who had to sign for different teams, other overseas footballers who were the objects of bids included the Nigerian defender Egbeta and Ecuador midfielder Christian Lara (Barasat, $200,000).

All teams also received a foreign coach. Apart from Siasia, others include Fernando Couto of Portugal (Howrah, $240,000), Teitur Thordorson of Iceland (Barasat, $210,000), Peter Reid of England ($200,000) and Marco Etcheverry of Bolivia (Siliguri, $200,000).

The league is organized by a company called Celebrity Management Group and the Indian Football Association and is expected to boost the popularity of the sport by giving local players a chance to learn from top professionals and experienced coaches.

“The response has been fabulous considering this is a new idea,” CMG executive director Bhaswar Goswami said.

“We’ll now have another auction on Feb 2 for Indian players.”

The tournament was originally planned to have six teams but the city franchise of Haldia failed to find any financial backers.

Organizers also said they would announce new dates for the tournament, which was originally due to be held from February 25 to April 8 but is now expected to begin in mid-March.

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