Indian Football Transfers: Boithang Haokip joins East Bengal from ISL Champions Bengaluru FC
I-League club East Bengal have completed the signing of Boithang Haokip from Indian Super League champions Bengaluru FC. The central midfielder will be joining for the next three years, the club said through a statement on Tuesday.
It is the second signing for the Red and Gold Brigade after they acquired the service of NEROCA footballer Naorem Tondomba Singh last month.
“I am feeling great to be part of QEBFC and one of the clubs that I had a dream to play since I have started my football career and also looking forward to do or give my best for the club and the fans,” Haokip said in the statement.
Haokip is a free-kick specialist and known as the David Beckham of the North-East. He is a versatile central midfielder but can also play as a winger or full-back if needed. Haokip is going to be filling in for Toni Dovale, whom East Bengal decided to release after he failed to shine as a winger.
In the ISL last season, Haokip had played 11 matches for BFC, scoring a lone goal against Delhi Dynamos that was also nominated as the Fans' Goal of the Week.
Haokip started his career at the Shillong Lajong Academy and made his senior team debut within two years. He scored a brace on his debut in the 2009-10 I-League season. Even though the club was relegated, Haokip continued to flourish in the second division.
He became a first team regular during the 2012-13 season, appearing in 22 matches and scoring four goals. In all, he appeared in 64 matches for Lajong spanning over four seasons and scored 10 goals. In between, he played for ISL club NorthEast United on loan for two seasons.
Haokip signed for Mumbai City in the 2015-16 season but failed to shine. The Manipur-born was signed by Bengaluru FC in 2017 ISL Draft.
Haokip made his presence felt by scoring three times in the AFC Cup qualifiers next year. He went on to represent the club in several other tournaments, including the AFC Cup last year.
Apart from Haokip, East Bengal have extended the contracts of assistant coach and physical trainer Carlos Nodar Paz, fondly called ‘Water’ by the players.
Carlos played a key role in the last season as part of Alejandro Menendez’s coaching team and was instrumental in dramatically improving the fitness levels, positivity and tenacity of the entire squad. The contract with Carlos has been extended by 2 years, according to the statement.