Indian Super League (ISL) side Chennaiyin FC begin their campaign on Tuesday when they take on Jamshedpur FC. The Marina Machans have clinched the coveted trophy twice and finished runners-up in the last edition of the tournament.
Unlike most of the ISL clubs, not a single player from A-League will feature for Chennaiyin FC in this edition of the campaign. A lot of players from 'Down Under' are playing in this edition of the tournament due to uncertainty in the league there.
Nonetheless, Chennaiyin FC are known for their prolific foreign player scouting. In the last season, for instance, they brought Nerijus Valskis, Rafael Crivellaro, Andre Schembri, and Dragos Firtulescu to play for the first time in India.
Initially, eyebrows were raised regarding their ability as their achievements weren't as noteworthy on paper as the ones of other ISL clubs. But, they played a pivotal part in Chennaiyin FC's resurgence and helped them finish as runners-up.
This season, only two players from Chennaiyin FC's last edition's campaign will don their jersey. On that note, here we look at the foreign signings of the club for the ISL 2020-21 season.
#7 Eli Sabia (Brazil)
Eli Sabia is one of the two players from the last season of ISL who will continue playing for Chennaiyin FC this season. The Brazilian was calm and composed while defending and also scored a goal in the first leg semi-finals against FC Goa to guide his team to the final.
This will be Sabia's fourth season in the Chennaiyin FC jersey, having also represented the side at the AFC Cup in 2019. He has also played for Saudi top division club Al-Raed and in the top divisions of Brazil.
#6 Enes Sipovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
This will be Enes Sipovic's first stint in ISL with Chennaiyin FC, after playing 11 matches for Qatar Stars League club Umm Salal. The 6'6'' defender could be seen partnering Sabia on the heart of the defense.
Sipovic was a part of the squad that won the 2010-11 season of Liga I (Romania) while playing for Otelul Galati. The 30-year-old has made a total of 173 appearances in his club career and also played 11 matches for Bosnia and Herzegovina's U-21 team.
Although there have been players from his country playing in I-League previously, Sipovic would become the first player from Bosnia and Herzegovina to play in ISL this season.
#5 Memo Moura (Brazil)
Memo Moura is a familiar name in the ISL circuit, having stepped his foot for the first time in the country in 2016. He had then played for Delhi Dynamos before switching gears to Jamshedpur FC the following year. Memo donned their jerseys for straight three seasons before jumping ship to Chennaiyin FC this season.
A rock-solid defensive midfielder, Memo would be trusted to break the lines of opposition. Before coming to India, he played for numerous clubs in the second tier of Brazil.
#4 Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev (Tajikistan)
Apart from Mumbai City FC, Chennaiyin FC are the only other side to not have a player from Australia registered as an AFC-affiliated player. The Tajik international has 68 caps for his nation and has scored 9 goals.
Fatkhuloev scored for Tajikistan against India in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup final in Ambedkar Stadium, Delhi. However, his side lost the match 1-4 eventually. The winger also scored against India in 2013 in a friendly match.
#3 Rafael Crivellaro (Brazil)
Rafael Crivellaro was one of the most creative attacking midfielders last season, scoring 7 goals and bagging 8 assists in his 20 appearances. One of his goals included a long range effort from the halfway mark against NorthEast United FC.
Crivellaro has been given the captain's armband this season for Chennaiyin FC. Before coming to ISL, he played for clubs in Portugal, Poland, Iran, UAE, and Brazil.
#2 Jakub Sylvestr (Slovakia)
Jakub is one of the four Chennaiyin FC foreign players who will be making their ISL debut, having made six international appearances for Slovakia. Before coming to India, he played for clubs in Croatia, Slovakia, Denmark, Israel as well as Germany's second tier.
He will be the second Slovakian to step foot in India after Jozef Kaplan won the I-League with Chennai City FC.
#1 Esmael Goncalves (Guinea-Bissau)
Esmael Goncalves is the other striker in Chennaiyin FC's team and will be expected to fill the void left behind by Nerijus Valskis. The 29-year-old comes into the team after playing for a club in Japan's second tier.
Goncalves was even hailed as "the next Drogba" in 2013 when he signed for Scottish club St Mirren. Apart from the aforementioned countries, he has also played for clubs in France, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Iran.Published 24 Nov 2020, 14:52 IST