The future of Indian club football is facing serious threat at this moment. The clubs have failed to fulfill the criteria and the requirement provided by AFC, and the clubs’ coming days along with I-League and other national competitions looks in jeopardy. And then there is the new IMG league that has made the life difficult for the recruiters of the clubs but that is not stopping the them from bringing new players and building a strong team in the hopes of  better things in the next season. Salgaocar, who were extensively carrying out trials for some time now, has recently signed three foreigners from three different continents to strengthen their line-up.

Salgaocar Sign Seiji Saito To Bolster Midfield

“Saito has been with us a couple of days. His positive attitude, will to play for Salgaocar and experience for the last ten years will hold him in good stead. We hope he takes this opportunity to prove his talent and we wish him all the best’’ – Raj Gomes after signing Seiji.

Seiji Saito

Seiji Saito

Seiji Saito, a Japanese central midfielder, was the first to be included in the Derrick Pereira‘s team. Saito joins Salgaocar from Polish top division side Korona Kielce FC and spent more than a week trialling at the former I-League champions where he caught the eyes of the coaching staff. Saito’s career graph seems very impressive— the 27 year old has previously played for notable teams like Sao Paolo ‘B’,  and J League outfits Kawasaki Frontale and Kashiwa Reysol FC. Along with his club career he has also represented Japan at U 15, U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels. The fans of the club surely remember and  miss Ryuji Sueka, another Japanese central attacking midfielder/striker, who was the integral part of 2011-12 Salgaocar team, that lifted I-League and Fed Cup in that season.

Japanese players like Sueka(now with East Bengal) and lately Katsumi Yusa (now with Mohun Bagan), have never failed to impress Indian spectators with their skill and speed and Salgaocar fans will hope that Saito follows the same path. He will be leading the midfield with players like Rocus Lamhare and Francis Fernandes to help him. It will be interesting to see how he copes up with the Indian players towards a better team.

Seiji Saito seemed very happy with the deal and is looking forward to this exciting challenge with Salgaocar FC.

“I will do my best and contribute towards the club having a good season.”

Salgaocar Add Teeth To Forward Line; Sign Darryl Duffy

“The Coach is doing a lot of things, inculcating good sleeping patterns, eating habit, The training system is mostly the same. The players are a friendly bunch, they’re really nice and I’m looking forward to playing with them. I want to hopefully score and help Salgaocar win the League again, and if I can bring a lot of goals, that would be very nice ” – Duffy on signing for Salgaocar.


Darryl Duffy

Darryl Alexander Duffy, 29 year old Scottish player, was the second one to sign for the Goa club this season and the third foreigner overall for the green brigade. His resume certainly looks interesting from Indian football’s perspective. Duffy has played for some major English, Scottish and Welsh clubs in his career, which includes teams like Swansea and Hull City. He signed for the Indian team from  Cheltenham Town, where he was the top-scorer for the team in 2011-12 season. Duffy is currently training with the team and has been really impressed with the club, team and his coach.

The team management too seemed excited and impressed with the player and Raj Gomes said that the Scot was an experienced professional and has played with some of the top clubs in his career and would certainly continue to do so in Salgaocar colours as well.

The team currently lacks quality in the striking zone and Duffy’s inclusion to the team might solve the problem in the upcoming season. Duffy started his career in Scottish first division club Falkirk FC, and his stay at the club impressed selectors at Hull City. But at Hull City his game time was limited, and he was loaned to Hartlepool United and later to Swansea City. His scoring ability made Swansea sign him the next season but he failed to reproduce his earlier show, and was released to play for Bristol Rovers. In his three year stay at Bristol he scored 21 goals from 99 outings. He later on signed a deal with Swansea next year, but failed to reproduce his earlier form. Duffy has always been a natural goal scorer but his injury in late 2010 made him a little inconsistent on the pitch. He came back strongly with his new club Cheltenham Town and ultimately became the top-scorer for his club the following season. Salgaocar’s dreams of lifting trophies would surely rely on Duffy’s big club experience, and his scoring boots might come in handy for his team.

Salgaocar Sign Claude Gnakpa As Their Final Foreigner

“Chika’s a good guy, very involved. I’ve not met Seito but I’ve heard he’s a good player, delivers good passes and is good with the ball, which is important since I’m a striker. As for Darryl, he’s great and we gel really well. I hope to play alongside him. I want to score goals, perform, win the League and the Federation Cup and am looking forward to a good season” – Claude Gnakpa seemed confident about putting a good show ahead.

Claude Gnakpa

Claude Gnakpa

Salgaocar has completed their foreigner quota by signing Claude Gnakpa, a French striker, with over a decade of playing experience in countries like Spain, France, Scotland and Iraq.  He was picked up as a youth team member of French giants Montpellier, and played for the club for three years. He played for local clubs Marignane and Beaucaire, before joining La Liga clubs Racing Santander B and Alaves B. But he was not impressive enough, and had to switch between teams in the coming season. It was Luton Town Club, where Gnakpa found his footing right and gave their fans something to cheer for. His extra-time winner seemed crucial as Luton defeated Scunthorpe United 3–2 to win the Football League Trophy final at Wembley Stadium . He played as a winger in the match and had a definite impact on the play. Gnakpa’s hat-trick helped his team in a 6–1 win over Ebbsfleet United, and the striker continued his scoring streak with three goals in the next two games. His splendid form earned him the Conference Premier Player of the Month award for March. In June 2010, Gnakpa featured in the Conference Premier team of the season.

Gnakpa continued his form into the next season, scoring 15 goals as Luton finished third in table, securing a play-off place. He went on to play for Scottish team Walsall and for Al-Minaa in Iraq, but was never close to his earlier show at both these clubs. He now joins Salgaocar to partner Duffy, and will definitely look to bring back his and club’s heydays. He can play as a striker or as the winger to support his team from flanks.

Coach Derrick Pereira seems eager to see how the striker duo combines upfront and has praised the latest signing.

“We are glad to have him on our side, his ability to break through defenses will certainly boost our strike force.”

And needless to say, it will be the combination of Duffy and Gnakpa that would decide the fate of the team in the coming season.

The former I-League champions are all set for a comeback this year, and with Derrick Pereira as the new manager of the side, Salgaocar will look for silverware once again. The team management kept almost the same team from last year with a few additions like Rakesh Masih, Felix D’Souza etc. Though there were not much changes as far as the Indian players are concerned, but there were some big alternations in the foreigner quota. The team released all its foreigners from the last year’s squad and has no doubt made quality additions to the squad. With the AIFF allowing clubs to field all four foreign players on the field, the importance of foreign players is more than ever and Salgaocar have made quality signings and the club management and the fans will hope that these players can make their presence felt.