ISL 2017 Draft: 4 players who have chosen East Bengal over ISL draft
The Indian Super League (ISL) draft is creating all the buzz around Indian football at the moment, but the two Kolkata giants - East Bengal and Mohun Bagan - have begun preparations for the Calcutta Football League which commences 8th August.
New East Bengal head coach Khalid Jamil has already set about assembling his squad for the CFL as well as the 2017/18 I-League, which will be staged simultaneously with the ISL next season onwards.
With all the noise over the ISL draft tomorrow, a few players have linked up with Jamil and East Bengal for pre-season, signalling their intentions of not going for the draft. Contractual obligations might have forced them to give the draft a miss, but these four players would have added quality to any ISL side had they been part of the draft and then picked.
Let us take a look at the four East Bengal players who chose to stay with East Bengal for the 2017/18 season.
#1 Mohammed Rafique
The India international won the ISL with Atletico de Kolkata in the very first season of the league and even scored the winner in the final. Rafique also featured in last season's final for Kerala Blasters but ended up on the losing side.
The 24-year-old midfielder will not be part of the ISL draft this time round and has already joined up with Jamil and the East Bengal squad for pre-season preparations. Given he recently made his India debut and even scored a goal, Rafique will be a big miss for ISL clubs.
#2 Cavin Lobo
The midfielder from Goa has also given next season's ISL a miss since he has also joined East Bengal's pre-season party. The Red and Golds are the CFL holders and having Lobo on their side for the upcoming campaign will be a huge boost.
The 29-year-old was ATK's first pick in the 2014 draft and ended up winning the title with the Kolkata outfit along with Rafique. Having been capped seven times by India, Lobo would've definitely interested ISL clubs had he been in the draft.
#3 Arnab Mondal
Atletico de Kolkata's defensive stalwart in their two ISL title wins, Arnab Mondal is the biggest name to skip the draft. The East Bengal captain made 41 appearances for ATK in three ISL seasons, but his talents will be confined to the CFL and I-League as he is not among the players in tomorrow's draft.
Ever since his India debut in 2013, Mondal has played 25 times for the Blue Tigers. Considering his experience at the very top level, ISL clubs will rue the absence of a quality defender like Mondal in the draft.
#4 Gurwinder Singh
Last season's East Bengal captain Gurwinder Singh played all the previous seasons of the ISL at Kerala Blasters, ending up with two runners-up medals in the process. The experienced 31-year-old from Jalandhar is back in the Red and Golds fold for the upcoming CFL season and is not part of tomorrow's draft.
Given his pedigree and defensive nous, the absence of Gurwinder, who has played 10 times for India, from the draft will be felt once the ISL 2017/18 gets underway in November.