I-League 2017: East Bengal squad announced
What’s the story
Kolkata giants East Bengal have announced their squad for the upcoming I-league. They start their campaign against Aizawl FC on January 7, 2016. A host of new faces is set to feature for the Red and Golds as coach Trevor James Morgan looks to take up from where he left in 2013.
The 4th foreigner quota is yet to be filled with only four days remaining for the commencement of the league.
This season, the refurbished I-League boasts of 2 new entrants in the form of Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab entering the fray. With a relatively newer bunch of players and lack of time, team spirit might pose the biggest challenge for East Bengal.
In case you did not know
East Bengal have won the National Football League (NFL) in 2000-01. Consequently, they became the first club to win back to back titles after winning the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons. However, since the NFL was renamed I-League, they have not won the league.
Under the tutelage of Trevor James Morgan, the club remained unbeaten at a stretch, for a record 30 matches in a calendar year in the 2012-13 season. Morgan was a crucial factor in the unbeaten quarterfinal run of East Bengal in the 2013 AFC Cup. It was a feat that no other Indian club has achieved in the history of this competition.
East Bengal managed to finish third in the 2015-16 edition of the league, behind their arch rivals Mohun Bagan. Coach Morgan is expected to better the record as he returns to Kolkata for his second stint with the Red and Golds.
Fact of the matter
It is a new squad and expectations will be high from the Calcutta giants. Experienced player Mehtab Hossain has fanned the flames with his explosive claim of quitting football if East Bengal fails to win the I-league this time.
A shroud of uncertainty exists over the foreign players as their striker Willis Plaza and central defender Ivan Bukenya are yet to arrive. The 4th foreigner has not been decided yet and a number of names including Australian-born Andrew Barisic are doing the rounds.
New recruit Wedson Anselme would have to play a significant role up front. It remains to be seen if the attacking winger is deployed as the sole striker or on the flanks. Youngsters like Nikhil Pujari and VP Suhair would have big shoes to fill in the goalscoring department.
The full squad of East Bengal for this I-league season is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Rehenesh TP, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Abhilash Paul, Dibyendu Sarkar, Luis Barreto
Defenders: Ivan Bukenya, Arnab Mandal, Gurwinder Singh, Anwar Ali, Koushik Sarkar, Robin Gurung, Samad Ali Mallick, Rahul Bheke, Narayan Das, Deepak Kumar, Robert Lalthlamuana
Midfielders:, Mehtab Hossain, Rowlin Borges, Romeo Fernandes, David Lalrinmuana, Jackichand Singh, Abhinash Ruidas, Mohammed Rafique, Cavin Lobo, Bikash Jairu
Forwards: Wedson Anselme, Nikhil Pujari, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Willis Plaza, VP Suhair