Mario Rivera, who guided East Bengal to a second-place finish in the I-League last year, wants to be back as the team’s chief coach even as former Serbian international Risto Vidakovic’s name also does the rounds for the top job.
East Bengal are yet to finalise their head coach following their acquisition by Shree Cement, which will make an entry bid for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season.
“I receive many messages every day from East Bengal fans asking me to come back but at this moment nothing is closed,” Rivera told PTI from Madrid.
Rivera, who had worked as Alejandro Menendez’s deputy for 32 games during the 2018-’19 season, was brought in as a replacement for the famed Spaniard after East Bengal started off the New Year with a hat-trick of losses, including a 1-2 derby debacle.
Rivera, in a matter of just seven matches, took them to second place. East Bengal officials had promised to retain him for the 2020-’21 season.
“I’m always ready to go back to India. My future plans are coaching wherever a club wants me and enjoy every day of my passion,” the 43-year-old said.
Extending best wishes to East Bengal and the supporters to play in the ISL, he said: “For East Bengal fans, I would like to say ‘best wishes for joining in ISL’, they deserve to play there, because they are the most passionate supporters of Indian football.”
On East Bengal getting a new investor, he said: “This is not just a big news for East Bengal fans but also for Indian football.”
The club has recently appointed AFC Pro Licence holder Francisco Bruto Da Costa as their assistant coach.
Vidakovic, who spearheaded Ceres-Negros to three titles in the Philippines Football League and captured the ASEAN Zonal championship in the 2017 AFC Cup, is also said to have expressed his interest to join the team.
However, the club has remained tight-lipped about him being in contention.
“There are many names doing the rounds. I cannot confirm any name. Our first priority is getting a slot (in ISL), once that is finalised the Board will be formed and the chief coach’s name will be announced,” East Bengal assistant secretary Shanti Ranjan Dasgupta said.
Kolkata-based Shree Cement recently bought a majority stake of 76% to get the footballing rights.
The new investor will have eight directors on the club’s Board, compared to two from the club, and will have the decision-making authority.