Top five foreign signings in the I-League so far
With I-League 2012-13 past its halfway stage now, Sportskeeda reviews the season by listing the top five foreign signings so far.
1. Bilal Najjarin (Churchill Brothers)
This Lebanese international defender has not only been the best foreign signing but also the best defender of the I-League so far. Despite this being his first season in Indian football, Bilal has adapted instantly to the conditions and has been ever present for Churchill Brothers. Bilal has been a nightmare for opposition attackers and his consistency has been instrumental in Churchill’s fantastic start. Although defending is his biggest strength, the 31-year-old is equally good with the ball going forward as he has scored once and also bagged three assists.
2. Ryuji Sueoka (Dempo)
The Japanese helped Salgaocar win the I-League and Federation Cup in 2011 but wasn’t at his best in the 2011-12 I-League. However, that didn’t stop Dempo from signing him and the Japanese has repaid that faith in style, having scored a match winning brace on his I-League debut for Dempo against Churchill Brothers. Sueoka is a completely different player from Ranti Martins but he has ensured that the Nigerian hasn’t been missed by scoring nine goals already to keep Dempo very much in contention for a record sixth title. Sueoka has operated both as the main and support striker for Dempo and has been equally effective in both roles as he has been doing both – scoring and creating.
3. Akram Moghrabi (Churchill Brothers)
Like his compatriot Bilal, Akram too hasn’t had any difficulty to adapt to Indian football. The 27-year-old striker has found the back of the net eight times including a hat-trick in his very first I-League start against ONGC. Akram is a complete striker and scores all kinds of goals with his late winner against Lajong in Shillong possibly being the most important one. The Lebanese international faces fierce competition for a starting place from Gabonese international Henri Antchouet but that has brought the best out of him so far and with Churchill in fine form, Akram will be aiming to reach the 20-goal mark.
4. Ranti Martins (Prayag United)
The Nigerian ended an eight-year association with Dempo in the summer by making the big money move to Prayag United. Ranti is one of the biggest names of Prayag’s ambitious project and has lived up to the expectations by scoring 15 goals already. He scored five times in the 10-1 hammering of United Sikkim but the winner against East Bengal has been his most significant strike. Collectively, Prayag have struggled and failed to mount a serious title challenge, but Ranti hasn’t put a foot wrong and looks well set to finish as the highest scorer for the third straight season.
5. Minchol Son (Shillong Lajong)
The Japanese-born North Korean defender has been a fantastic recruit for Shillong Lajong. In his very first season in India, Minchol has been man of the match five times already and has become a fan favourite in Shillong. The 26-year-old has all the attributes of a good defender and has been consistent despite Lajong’s struggles as a team. Minchol’s qualities were evident right from his I-League debut against Mohun Bagan and his availability will be crucial in Lajong’s survival bid. An equally good second half of the season will also attract attention from bigger clubs in the summer.