Come next month, the seventh edition of the I-League is all set to kick off, with 15 clubs from six different cities across the country ready to fight it out for the Indian premier division title. Over the summer, most of the clubs have been busy bringing in reinforcements ahead of the new season. Quite a few players have been brought in from abroad, who will be making their I-League debuts this term. The arrival of these professionals promises to take the I-League to a new level this season, and have already had the Indian football fraternity drooling in anticipation. TheHardTackle takes a look at five particular new foreign arrivals, in no particular order, who may have the biggest impact in the I-League, this upcoming season.
In their topsy-turvy campaign in the I-League last season, Shillong Lajong suffered from the absence of a consistent goal-scorer upfront. Thangboi Singto has been quick in bringing in some top quality forwards during the transfer window, which includes youngster Subhash Singh from Pune FC and Cameroonian attacker Charles Edoa. However, the club’s biggest coup this summer has been the signing of Trinidad and Tobago international Cornell Glen. With 66 caps and 23 goals to his name in the international fold, Glen has been a regular feature in his national team in the last decade, even representing the Caribbean country in the 2006 FIFA World Cup where he played in all three of their games in the tournament. Having played for top American clubs, including Metro Stars (New York Red Bulls) and LA Galaxy, there’s no questioning Glen’s credentials at the top level. The former North East Stars forward’s signing will provide Lajong with a top-quality goal poacher up front, and can help the club in its push for a top half finish. However, the arrival of Cornell Glen, and Charles Edoa, may have some undesirable effects on the Lajong team, particularly on talented youngsters Subhash Singh and Seikhohao Tuboi, who may have some hard time getting any significant game time. Moreover, 31-year old Glen being a hit in Indian conditions, is not a given. With high hopes being pinned on the new signing, Lajong fans will be hoping that things eventually pan out all well with Glen and the rest of the boys.
After winning their second ever I-League title last season, defending champions Churchill Brothers are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for a consecutive league triumph. The reds have been active throughout the summer, bringing in a few quality players, including the Portuguese duo of Hugo Machado and Eurípedes Amoreirinha. Amorerinha, who first learnt his trade at the Benfica youth system and later went on to represent the senior side, last played for Portuguese top division club Vitoria Setubal. The centre-back arrives at Churchill with some quality top-level experience, and will definitely add tremendous solidity to the Goan side’s backline. Having played for some top sides like CFR Cluj, Benfica, etc., Amorerinha’s decision to move to India has been a welcome surprise for the Indian fans. The 6-feet tall defender’s form can have a large bearing on Churchill Brother’s shot at a consecutive league title this coming season. With some top-level experience in his bag, few fans would bet against Amorerinha having a cracking debut season in the I-League.
After missing out on a fourth I-League title last season, Dempo SC seem quite desperate to regain the Indian top flight title, as has been highlighted by a very busy summer transfer window. Among the arrivals at the club, the pick of the lot have been Irish striker Billy Mehmet and former Australian international defender Simon Colosimo. A West Ham United youth product, Billy Mehmet started off his senior career at Scottish club Dunfermline Athletic, before leaving for St. Mirren, where he spent the next 5 years. The lanky forward has also played for Turkish top division club Genclerbirligi, and A-League side Perth Glory. With Arthur Papas set to launch Dempo’s latest I-League title assault, Mehmet’s arrival will no doubt boost the club’s chances of winning the league title once again. The Irish striker is likely to be partnered by Indian international Jeje Lalpekhlua up ahead, with Dempo fans already smacking their lips at the prospect of seeing these two link up in the new season. It will, however, be interesting to see how Mehmet adjusts to the Indian conditions.
The signing of former Australian international Simon Colosimo by Dempo SC is a welcome arrival for both the Goan club and Indian football. Having had the experience of playing for European clubs Manchester City, Royal Antwerp and Sivasspor, Colosimo does have an idea or two about playing at the top level. The Australian center-back is likely to lead the former I-League champions’ defense this season, and will be a crucial part of Arthur Papas’ plans for the new term. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the former Melbourne Heart defender is well past his prime. Colosimo is set to turn 35 this January, and it is not known whether he will be able to keep fit for the entire course of the season. Although his experience can come handy to Dempo as the season progresses, his signing can well be termed as a gamble by the club.
After starting off his career at Scottish giants Rangers FC, Darryl Duffy has led a nomadic career in the British footballing circuit. The Scottish striker has played for many well-known clubs in the Great Britain, including Falkirk, Swansea City and Hibernian. However, Duffy has never lasted at a club for more than a couple of years. This summer, the forward decided to move abroad from home, to India, after Goan giants Salgaocar FC expressed an interest in the Scotsman. There’s is no doubt about the quality the forward would bring into the team this season, and will be a definite starter in Derrick Pereira’s side. Duffy will be joined up by new signing Claude Gnakpa, who has the experience of playing in different European clubs, as well. Salgaocar’s fate in the I-League can be largely affected by the impacts these players have in the new season. The Indian conditions will be a new experience for Duffy, but one can definitely expect quite a few goals from the Brit this season.