East Bengal FC: How the team is shaping up for the upcoming season?
Last Updated 4:05 AM 24th May 2020 .
East Bengal FC team management has been the most active among all in the last one and half month even under the current unwanted lockdown situation in hope to build a decent squad for the upcoming season as the team management is desperate to participate in the Indian Super League.
We would like to have a closer look onto the new signings and how the team is shaping up for the upcoming season:
One of the most problematic zones for East Bengal FC in the last few years has been the one defending the last line under the crossbar. East Bengal FC have already roped in two young goalkeepers for the upcoming season, 24 year old Sankar Roy from Mohun Bagan and 21 year old Rafique Ali Sardar from Jamshedpur FC.
Rafique Ali Sardar is considered one of the promising new goalkeepers by Indian national team coach Igor Stimac who called the young Bengali goalkeeper to the national squad camp for the FIFA World Cup Qualification Round preparations. Although he made just 3 appearances in the 2019/20 ISL, spending most of his time as a deputee to India legend Subrata Paul, Rafique Ali Sardar still boasts a lot of promise and potential with his tall height being one of the biggest pros to his game.
The other goalkeeper signing Sankar Roy has been a revelation in the 2019/20 season for Mohun Bagan in their run to the I-League championship. Sankar proved his worth and became the first choice custodian ahead of senior players like Shilton Paul and Debjit Majumdar.
Sankar Roy made 14 appearances for Mohun Bagan in which he kept 7 clean sheets, the most among any goalkeeper in the I-League and conceded just 9 goals, as his heroics led to the fifth title for the green and maroon brigade.
The third name on the list of custodian is Mirshad Michu, who have been retained by the team management. Mirshad has been in-and-out of the team since he joined in 2017/18 however, he did make some memorable performances like against Gokulam Kerala in the Durand Cup semifinal in 2019. Mirshad kept the only two cleansheets for East Bengal FC in the 2019/20 I-League campaign.
The club has confirmed the three names however as per sources they are in the lookout for another experienced custodian which they want to add to the roster.
Goalkeepers so far:
Rafique Ali Sardar
The team management has already roped in 5 players who can play in the defensive positions be it the full-backs or as centre-backs. East Bengal FC roped in Gurtej Singh from Hyderabad FC, who is a known for his physcial presence as a centre-back. Although in the 2019/20 season, Hyderabad FC was a disaster, Gurtej Singh has been a regular starter since his days with the FC Pune City for the last 3 seasons, making 40 appearances in the ISL.
Along with Gurtej the club also signed Mohammed Irshad who can play in multiple positions in the defence including both the full-back positions also as a centre-back, where he sometimes played in the 3-5-2 formation at Gokulam Kerala FC under Fernando Santiago.
Mohammed Irshad recovered from his injury during the end of last season and ever since he has been a consistent name on the first eleven for the Malabarians. He was an important member of the Gokulam Kerala FC team that won the Durand Cup in September 2019. He also captained the side in the Sheikh Kamal Cup in Bangladesh where they lost out to eventual champions Terrenganu FC in the semifinals. He also made 13 starts in the 2019/20 I-League campaign and was one of the consistent Indian performers among all in the tournament.
East Bengal FC has also brought back their former fullback Lalramchullova, after he spent a season at Mohun Bagan. Chullova is a highly utility player who is comfortable playing in both the fullback positions, primarily as a right back.
Chullova has made a total of 18 appearances for the green and maroon brigade in the 2019/20 season in all competitions however he became second fiddle to Ashutosh Mehta and Dhanachandra Singh in the I-League and made just 4 appearances, spending most of his tenure on the bench in the title winning campaign.
Keegan Pereira is another experiencd player that the club has signed from Jamshedpur FC. Although, the 32 year old made just 4 appearances in the 2019/20 ISL and was released from the club in January.
Keegan is a veteran left back with vast experience under his belt who has previously plied his trade with Bengaluru FC, ATK and NorthEast United FC before moving to Jamshedpur FC. It is still his recent form which is however a cause of concern for the East Bengal fans.
The Red and Gold brigade has also roped in 22 year old Novin Gurung from Real Kashmir FC who can also play in both the full-back positions. Novin Gurung even though he is still very young has already played 4 seasons in the I-League. He played for three seasons for Shillong Lajong before moving to Real Kashmir FC in 2019 where he made 11 appearances in the I-League campaign.
East Bengal FC have also roped in Bengaluru FC veteran right-back Rino Anto for the upcoming season. The 33 year old however hardly played any game in the previous season and was out due to injury issues.
Rino Anto however is one of the most decorated names in the Indian Football circuit, winning almost everything in the last decade. He will surely bring in a bag full of experience along with him given he overcomes his injury issues.
East Bengal FC have also signed the 21 year old young versatile defender Anil Chawan from ATK FC. The young defender joined the ISL side in 2019/20 from SESA Academy and mostly featured in the Reserve team and even led them in the 2nd Division I-League.
The club has also roped in Pritam Kumar Singh, the 24 year old left-back from Kerala Blasters FC. Pritam has been with the ISL team since 2017, but mostly as a squad player making just 7 appearances for the Kochi based side.
The club has also signed in former U18 defender Vikas Saini, who was part of the Mohammedan Sporting squad in the 2019/20 2nd Division I-League, after impressing in the CFL with BSS Sporting Club.
Even after these 9 signings, the team management is still looking to get another Indian centre back and is heavily linked with Indian national team defender Anas Edathodika, who wants to leave ATK FC and is in search of a club for the upcoming season.
Defenders so far:
Gurtej Singh – CB
Lalramchullova – RB/LB
Mohammed Irshad – CB/RB
Novin Gurung – LB/RB
Keegan Pereira – LB
Rino Anto – RB
Pritam Kumar Singh – LB
Anil Chawan – CB
Vikas Saini – LB
East Bengal FC team management has made quite a few signings already in the midfield department for the upcoming season, starting with bringing back few former names like Cavin Lobo, who left the club after 6 seasons in 2018.
Lobo was part of the Punjab FC setup in the 2019/20 I-League and made 15 appearances, including 13 starts for the team from Ludhiana. The persistent problem with Cavin Lobo had always been his fitness issues however in the 2019/20 season he has managed to keep himself fit throughout.
The Red and Gold team management has also roped in other former player Sehnaj Singh from ISL Champions ATK FC. Sehnaj made 8 appearances for the Kolkata team in their run to the title. Known for his physical presence on the pitch, the 26 year old is a tough tackling defensive midfielder who is also ill-reputed for giving away free-kicks and picking up cards.
One more former midfielder Bikash Jairu has also been brought back by the Red and Gold management. Jairu played for two season before leaving for Jamshedpur FC in 2017. In 3 seasons with the Indian Super League side, the 29 year old Sikkimese has made 33 appearances. However, in 2019/20 season he fell off the ranks and lost his position from the starting eleven. He was also tried as a makeshift left back but didn’t impress much.
East Bengal FC also roped in a duo from TRAU FC, central midfielder Wahengbam Angousana and winger Loken Meitei. Angousana has been a regular for the Manipuri side playing all the matches and even featuring in among the best midfielder statistics of the I-League. Loken Meitei however made only a handful of appearances for TRAU but he too carries the experience of playing in the ISL with Kerala Blasters in 2017/18.
The Red and Gold brigade has also roped in former AIFF Player of the year Eugeneson Lyngdoh from Bengaluru FC. The 33 year old veteran playmaker has been one of the sought after names in Indian football in the past decade and East Bengal FC team management has finally got hold of the superstar at the fag end of his career.
Lyngdoh however has hardly played regularly for the last two seasons, after suffering a horrible injury during his stint with ATK FC. In 2019/20 he made just 5 appearances all together in the ISL for the Blues.
One more regular name from the Indian Super League, 27 year old Oinam Milan Singh too has been signed by the team management from NorthEast United FC. The defensive midfielder has been a constant name in the ISL, making 44 appearances in last three seasons which includes 29 starts.
The club management also decided to bring back Mohammed Rafique from Mumbai City FC. The forward turned midfielder, is a hard-working utility player. In the 2019/20 season, he came back from an injury to become a regular starter for the ISL side making 6 appearances all from the starting eleven. He was also used as a right wing back by the Mumbai City FC coach.
The club management has signed 8 midfielders so far and are still in hunt for a right winger, the position which is still unfulfilled in the squad.
Midfielders so far:
Sehnaj Singh – CDM
Wahengbam Angousana – CM
Loken Meitei – LW
Cavin Lobo – CM
Bikash Jairu – LW
Mohammed Rafique – CM
Eugeneson Lyngdoh – CM
Milan Singh – CDM
East Bengal FC have roped in the veteran national team striker Balwant Singh on a two years deal from ISL Champions ATK FC. The 33 year old has made 8 appearances for the Kolkata side and scoring once, which was a last minute winner against NorthEast United FC, in the title winning campaign. However, he remained mostly on the reserve bench as ATK FC had the likes of Roy Krishna and David Williams who lead the lines.
East Bengal FC has also roped in 25 year old Girik Khosla from Punjab FC who has made 7 appearances for the club scoring twice. According to Ranjit Bajaj, Khosla is a very hardworking prospect who scores stunners occasionally. He is fast and can play as an attacking midfielder too. He was also with the NorthEast United FC setup in 2018/19 season however failed to get any game time.
The club has also roped in the 31 year old forward CK Vineeth from Jamshedpur FC as the third Indian name on the striking force. CK Vineeth has been part of the Indian national team until 2017 and is still one of the consistent Indian names on the starting eleven for ISL teams.
Vineeth has made 40 appearances in last 4 seasons in the Indian Super League scoring 8 times. He played mostly as a winger forward in his last two seasons in Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC.
Forwards so far:
Balwant Singh – CF
Girik Khosla – LWF
CK Vineeth – RWF
So far, 23 names have been officially announced by the club. There are few more names which are reported to be done but not yet annouced like Iranian winger Omid Singh.
Omid Singh has been playing in the Iranian top division with Naft Masjed Soleyman and is one of the best wingers in the league. He has won the Persian Gulf Pro League with Esteghlal Khuzestan FC in 2015/16. Omid Singh’s name came into limelight when the player wished to give up on his Iranian passport and play for the Indian national team after talking to coach Igor Stimac.
We can clearly see the East Bengal FC team management is desperate to build a decent squad in their quest to participate in the Indian Super League for the upcoming season. There will certainly be few more incomings and also the foreigners are yet to be decided upon.
The partnership with Quess Corp. would officially end on 31st May and the fanbase entire is expecting some good news in the first week of June from the club management.