Marquee Player – Decision And The Definition
On 14th May 2014, the Executive Committee of the All India Football Federation made it mandatory for all the clubs participating in the I-League to sign a marquee player and also stated that unless a club signs a marquee player, the club won’t be allowed to field any other foreign players in the I-League. A similar decision by Football Australia saw the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono play in the A-League last season, which immensely improved the global popularity of the A-League. This decision by the AIFF might have been influenced by this success of the A-League. On 23rd May, the AIFF defined a marquee player as:
“A foreign recruit who has represented his country in any of the Continental Championships like the European Championship, Copa America, African Nations Cup, the Asian Cup, or the FIFA World Cup will be called a Marquee Player. The club can propose a player outside the aforementioned group with creditable record of representing a reputed International Club in a reputed International League and should also have represented his Senior National Team. In this case, the approval would be given by the AIFF’s Technical Team before the club can contract the Player as a Marquee signing.”
In response to the AIFF’s decision, on 9th July, Mohun Bagan unveiled former Cameroon international, Pierre Boya, as their marquee player for the 2014-15 season. The 30 year old, Pierre Boya represented Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations in 2006 and thus satisfied the AIFF’s criteria of being a marquee.
A Look At Pierre Boya’ s Career
Boya, who originates from Yaounde, has played mostly as a support striker. He has also played as the main striker. He started his youth career with Union Douala in Cameroon. In January 2002, Boya joined Salam Zgharta in Lebanon. He made 27 appearances for Zgharta and scored 15 goals in the 2002-03 season. In November 2003, Boya’s club career met a turning point, when he signed for top Serbian club, Partizan Belgrade. Boya’s club Partizan finished the Serbian Superliga in the second place in the 2003-04 season and as a result qualified for the 2004-05 UEFA Cup (now known as UEFA Europa League). The greatest highlight of Boya’s club career came on 25th November 2004, when he scored a brace for Partizan against Lazio in Italy in a group stage encounter of the UEFA Cup. Boya lobbed the ball delightfully over the advancing Lazio custodian, and found the back of the net to score the first goal. He headed home from close range to score his second goal of the match. In 2005 Boya failed to convert a decisive spot-kick against Artmedia Bratislava. Had he managed to score from the spot, it would have sent Partizan through to the group stages of the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League. Boya was highly criticized for that missed penalty and it then appeared that his days at Partizan were numbered. He was eventually transferred to Romanian Liga1 club, Rapid Bukarest in July 2007. In this 3 and a half year stint Pierre Boya made 64 appearances for Partizan Belgrade and scored 9 goals for them.
Boya joined Rapid Bukarest as their main striker, but his performance there was below par as he scored only 8 goals in the 32 appearances for the club. In the winter transfer window of 2009, Pierre Boya was transferred to French Ligue1 side Grenoble Foot 38. Boya had a disastrous time at Grenoble. In 2008-09 season he featured in 15 matches for Grenoble and scored only once. He remained goalless in the 2009-10 season at Grenoble, even after appearing in 17 matches.
On 31st August 2010, Boya returned to his former club, Partizan Belgrade. Boya made 7 appearances for Partizan in the 2010-11 season, including 5 UEFA Champions League appearances against Arsenal, Sporting Braga and Shakhtar Donetsk. He scored 3 goals in these 7 matches. His best performance in this period was in a Serbian Superliga match against FK Rad, when he came on from the bench at half time and scored twice and provided an assist. Boya was released by Partizan in January 2011.
Boya joined Austrian Football First League (2nd division) side Austria Lustenauz. He scored 11 goals in the 14 matches he played for Austria Lustenauz. In August 2012 Boya moved to Danish Superliga side Randers FC. Boya faced a goal drought at Randers and managed to find the net only twice in 15 appearances for the club. On July 2013 Boya left Randers and signed for Malayasian Club, Penang FA. Strangely he didn’t play a single match for Penang and joined Albanian Superliga side FK Kukesi in January 2014. Boya scored 4 goals in the 10 matches he played for Kukesi in the Superliga and helped them finish in 2nd position by virtue of which Fk Kukesi now has a chance of qualifying through to the group stages of the UEFA Europa League. Boya also scored 1 goal in 4 Albanian Cup appearances for Kukesi.
The Expectations At Mohun Bagan
Mohun Bagan signed Boya as a likely replacement for the talismanic Nigerian, Odafa Okolie, who struggled with both form and fitness in 2013-14 season, scoring just 6 goals in the 12 I-league matches that he featured in. Although Boya enjoys playing as a support striker and he hasn’t been a real goal-machine at any stage in his career, he can still succeed as a target man for the Mariners. Boya is very strongly built and stands 184 centimeters tall. He can thus use his physique to his advantage and bulldoze through the defenses of the I-League clubs. Boya is a truly two-footed player and can shoot powerfully and accurately with both feet. He is also very strong aerially and scores a lot of headed goals. Boya is also a good passer of the ball and when he is marked, he tends to pass the ball to team-mates in better positions. He also brings with him a wealth of experience.
In India the biggest challenge for Boya will be the playing conditions. Although Boya originates from Cameroon, he has spent most of his career, playing in cold European countries and so adjustment to the Indian weather will be a challenge for him. The Mariners play most of their home matches at the Salt Lake Stadium. The artificial turf at the stadium has been blamed for numerous injuries to players in the past and this turf will also be a challenge for Boya, who missed 4 matches with Kukesi, earlier this year, after getting injured on 14th April. Boya returned from the injury and featured in an Albanian Cup encounter on 18th May against Flamurtari Vlore, where he was sent off after seeing two yellow cards.
The Mariners have spent the last four seasons without adding any silverware to their cabinet. This has outraged their numerous fans and led them to come up in large numbers and protest against the green and maroon officials on a number of occasions in the last 2 seasons. The Mariners are desperately in search of a trophy this season and Pierre Boya might just be the man they need in their quest for silverware. If Boya stays fit and adapts himself to the conditions, he certainly can bring smiles to the faces to the green and maroon fans.
Written by Guest Author Srijan Bhattacharya