Syed Nayeemuddin, who was India's football coach twice before, is a frontrunner again when interviews to decide Sukhwinder Singh's successor are held on Friday.
Five individuals, including former internationals Subrata Bhattacharya and Aloke Mukherjee, have been invited to appear before the four-member expert committee, but Nayeem, a leading defender for the national side in the sixties and seventies, appears favourite to land the top job in Indian football for a third time.
The All India Football Federation had invited applications after the national side's dismal performances on the tours of Pakistan and Fiji.
Present coach Sukhwinder Singh too is technically not out of reckoning after having met Federation chief Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi to explain the reasons for the team's poor display under him and spell out his "vision for football in the country".
"There are no definite guidelines for the committee to arrive at a decision. We will look at capability and qualifications in our national team coach," C R Viswanathan, who heads the expert committee, said in Delhi on Thursday.
Apart from Viswanathan, the committee includes former players P K Banerjee, Chuni Goswami and Derek D'Souza. It will make its recommendations to Dasmunshi, who will have the final say in selection.
"We are looking at previous coaching experience with the national side and a FIFA or AFC coaching license as also one from other foreign associations like Germany or England," he said.
"A total of 20 coaches sent their applications, out of which five were shortlisted," Viswanathan said.
But the field could be reduced even before the interviews commence, with Aloke Mukherjee, who functioned as assistant to previous coach Stephen Constantine, not inclined to make the trip to the national capital.
"As of now, I am not going [to New Delhi]. I received the letter from the AIFF only on September 27 and so have had no time to prepare," Mukherjee, who has been at the helm of Kolkata clubs Mohun Bagan and Tollygunge Agragami, said.
"I have been busy with club coaching [with Eveready] lately. I am only 45 and had not applied on my own. I would like prepare myself for the post of national coach in the future," Mukherjee, who was recently appointed coach of the Bengal team for November's Santosh Trophy, said.
But he added that if the AIFF insists on his appearance for the interview and threatens action if he does not turn up, he would have to come.
Asked about the situation, Viswanathan said he was "not very sure" whether Mukherjee would appear for the interview.
Nayeem is the only football coach to bag the Dronacharya award and comes into the fray armed with FIFA's highest coaching license as also degrees acquired in Brazil and Germany.
The Hyderabadi, who has made Kolkata his home, coached India in 1987-89 and 1997-98 and is credited with guiding the team for the only time in its history to the top 100 in the FIFA world rankings.
Nayeem, who has been in coaching since 1982, also won the SAF Cup and took India to the semi-finals of the Nehru Cup.
Asked about his preparation for the interview, he said: "Whatever the panel asks me I will tell them."
Subrata Bhattacharya, a Mohun Bagan stalwart of the 1970s, guided the club to two National Football League titles as coach and won all there is to win in domestic competition.
He will appear for the interview armed with computer print-outs to present his vision for the game in the country.
The other two candidates M Peethambaran (Kerala) and Birbal Singh (Manipur) also have impressive credentials to show for themselves.
Peethambaran coached his state to two Santosh Trophy triumphs in 2000-01 and again last year while Birbal has an 'A' level license from the Asian Football Confederation.