By Debayan Mukherjee
His first priority is still East Bengal but Spanish coach Mario Rivera has made it clear that he will not wait forever for the club to re-appoint him and is open to considering offers, even from Indian Super League (ISL) teams in the near future.
East Bengal have been without an investor since June when Quess Corp. parted ways abruptly. The Red and Gold side is set to take part in the I-League this season after missing the ISL bus despite much hue and cry over their expected non-participation in the country’s top division.
Rivera, who guided East Bengal to a second place finish in the truncated I-League, has been in talks with the club officials since returning to Spain and the club is keen to retain him for the upcoming season despite appointing ‘coach’ Francisco Bruto da Costa last month.
“In the last two months, communication is one time a week. They are telling me what the situation is. We are not in touch too much as there is not much update to give, but we are in touch. They don’t have news about new investors as of now,” Rivera told IANS from Madrid.
“When I left Kolkata, they did not tell me about ISL or I-League. They want me as the head coach. It was the conversation two months ago and it is the same,” said the UEFA Pro Licence coach who has had most of his coaching stints in Spain.
“We could not do any contract when I left Kolkata as they parted ways with their investor. Now when they have a new investor, we will talk then,” said the 43-year old who was contracted with Quess East Bengal till May 31.
“They wanted me to continue for the next season. We did not talk about conditions at that time they did not know about investors. I said then we will talk about what they know.”
“I am ok to play in the I-League. I think East Bengal deserves to play ISL but if they finally play I-League, I am ok with it,” said Rivera when asked about East Bengal playing in India’s second tier league this term.
Quizzed if he has any deadline as to how long he would wait to hear from East Bengal before deciding on his next move, Rivera said: “I will wait for East Bengal. But I cannot wait forever.
“Today I will wait, tomorrow also but maybe if I have another offer when leagues in other countries also start…I have to decide then. My first preference is East Bengal now.
“I don’t have a deadline to decide. I hope as soon as possible they will get an investor and I start talks about next season. But in this situation many countries are not playing…at this moment I don’t have any offer. I know some clubs from other countries call me but their leagues have not begun.
“The problem for me is if I get any club offer from anywhere, I will talk to East Bengal and they have to act faster.
“I am a professional coach and I have to think for my future. As I said I will give East Bengal preference but if I get any offer I will talk to them. Maybe then they can’t do anything if they don’t have investors.”
Lauding the ISL for its professionalism, Rivera said he will keep his doors open if an offer from an ISL club comes his way. At the moment, Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United are still to appoint their head coaches.
“ISL is the top league and it’s always good for a coach to go there as it is a very professional league. I will consider if I get an offer to move to an ISL club but will always respect East Bengal, that’s my preference,” he signed off.