Sudeva FC are one of just three clubs who are in the running for direct entry into the 2020-21 I-League.
The New Delhi-based club, along with Shillong's Ryntih SC and Visakhapatnam-based Sreenidhi FC, have submitted a bid after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) invited interested parties to fill the spot left vacant by Mohun Bagan who have merged with Indian Super League (ISL) franchise ATK.
However, Sudeva FC are the front-runners to win the bid and if they do, co-owner Anuj Gupta has huge plans for the upcoming season. And 'desi' is the dominating tint to the vision he has for Sudeva.
"Hopefully, the license (to play I-League) comes through for us. There are a lot of things I want to implement. Winning and losing is sometimes not in our hand. But what is in our hands is our philosophy. I believe in a philosophy that is pro-Indian," Gupta told Goal.
"We want to win the bid and post the bid, I would be announcing several things including our plan for the coming five years."
Sudeva, who are an established name in the junior circuits and has an expansive residential academy, have already laid down the groundwork for the upcoming season including potential recruits.
"I have already identified the players who we want for the squad and we have called them for selective trials in August."
However, the club is not planning to recruit foreign players as of now, in small part due to the restriction imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and mainly due to a pro-Indian vision that Gupta swears by.
"I don’t think I would be focusing on overseas players as of now. The best day for Indian football would be when a completely Indian contingent wins the I-League.
"Also, because of the pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty. The whole I-League will happen in one or two cities and there will be a problem getting a foreigner and see what their travel and other arrangements might be. My focus would be to get the best talent in India and showcase them. Give them the chance with a very good pre-season and put up a fight in the competition."
If Sudeva are given a chance to play the I-League and they struggle with an all-Indian side, Gupta states prudently that they might consider getting a few foreigners in during the January transfer window.
"Hopefully, it will be an Indian contingent. But it depends. If our season goes well, I guess we won’t need to sign any foreign players but if we struggle, we might take a couple of foreigners in the January window. But I would like to give more chances to Indian players."
"Nothing is finalised right now. Only after we receive the license, we would be revealing everything," he adds cautiously.
Sudeva are also looking to fast-track some of the promising recruits from their flourishing academy in New Delhi into the first team this season. It has to be noted that Gupta is also the owner of Spanish third division side Olimpic de Xativa, with Spanish coaches coming in to help him and his team scout for talent.
The extensive scouting process on multiple levels including youth football, Santosh Trophy and even University tournaments has helped them identify the players they need.
"We will have I-League winners, ISL players, youth players from our academy and other academies. It will be a combination of youth and experience. I have scouted in over 11 states. It doesn’t matter for me where the player has played. I have scouted players from state teams, Santosh trophy teams and university teams. It is an opportunity I want to give to any player who is good enough," said Gupta.
Winning the I-League with an all-Indian squad remains the dream for Gupta, one he feels he will be immensely proud of if he achieves it.
"I want to win the I-League with a completely Indian team. I think that would be a proud moment for any Indian involved in Indian football. That is my dream. I would be proud if one day I end up giving an Indian player a wage that overseas players command right now."