It was another season of false dawns for the Red and Gold who once again flattered to deceive and their quest for a maiden I-League title goes on…

One of the two existing Kolkata giants in India’s top flight football, East Bengal are still without winning the top tier league, the I-League trophy since its inception in 2007. In these last 10 years, East Bengal have picked up a nickname of ‘chockers’ when it comes to I-League glory. The Red and Gold started brightly in all their seasons but lost their rhythm and form after a period of time which has led to discontent among the fans and in the dressing room. Though the century-old club has provided Indian football with some of the most mouthwatering performances and players in the past seasons, they have always concluded their seasons without winning the league silverware. As the recently concluded season started, the Kolkata giants put up arguably the most star-studded squad in the country and emerged as the team to beat on pen and paper. However, as the gameweeks progressed, injuries led them towards distraught performances and ultimately to dropping valuable points which forced the Red and Gold brigade to finish in third place, following Aizawl FC and arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in the top two positions in the league table.   


 Fact Sheet of I-League 2016-17


 Season Finish: Third

 Games Played: 18

Won : 10

Lost : 5

Drawn : 3

Win %: 55.55% 

   GF: 33

GA: 15


 Pre Season


The century-old club decided to hold onto most of their key players with experience which some would argue has backfired the most in the recently concluded season. The Red and Gold brigade had retained 12 players from the 2015-16 I-League season which included guaranteed starter Mehtab Hossain in the heart of the midfield. However, the departure of Harmanjot Khabra and Do-Dong-Hyun hurt the club dearly, which came out in daylight as the season progressed under former coach Trevor Morgan.

East Bengal roped in several players such as Jackichand Singh from Royal Wahingdoh, Aizawl FC skipper Robert Lalrinmuana, Romeo Fernandes and Rowlin Borges to cover for the then recently departed versatile player Harmanjot Singh Khabra. Anwar Ali, Robin Gurung, VP Suhair and Thonkhosiem Haokip were also roped in to further strengthen the squad.

East Bengal also roped in foreign players such as Wedson Anselme (Haiti), Willis Plaza (Trinidad & Tobago), Ivan Bukenya (Uganda) in the first part of the foreign transfers. Ildar Amirov (Kyrgyzstan) was later signed by the club to fill in the foreign player with Asian quota position, vacated by Do Dong-Hyun, but was later released and Chris Payne (Australia) was signed instead.

The Club was forced to relocate their home ground to Barasat Stadium as the Salt Lake Stadium was unavailable due to ongoing renovations for the forthcoming Under-17 FIFA World Cup. The new pitch at the Barasat Stadium was smaller in width and the stadium had a much lesser capacity in comparison to the Salt Lake Stadium. Also, the fact that the pitch in Barasat Stadium was made of artificial turf, raised several eyebrows looking at East Bengal’s injury record in the recent years. However, the club management still decided to play their I-League home games at Barasat anyway.


 Top 3 Players


Willis Plaza Wedson Anselme Robin Singh

The Trinidadian striker made a name as a clinical striker for himself quickly in India after he signed for the Kolkata giants. Plaza, a striker with a poaching mentality, scored important goals for the club before his injury which restricted the use of him in this season. The top scorer for East Bengal this year, Plaza had cemented his place in the team with his clinical strikes and goal per minute ratio, which even rivals that of the league’s top scorer Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka. 



The Haitian forward was an instant hit among the East Bengal faithful in the recently concluded I-League season. A versatile forward, Wedson played on the wing, as an attacking midfielder, second fiddle to the primary striker as well as a centre forward. The Haitian scored eight goals in 15 appearances, helping his side with several important points time and time again. Wedson carried out an outstanding job connecting the midfield with the forwards, which led to praises from head coach Trevor Morgan.



A former Red and Gold footballer himself, Robin Singh came back to his old den in the 10th edition of the I-League this year from Bengaluru FC. A leader in the dressing room, Singh not only helped to keep a healthy atmosphere in the dressing room but also scored several important goals which helped the Red and Gold secure important points and took them at the top of the league table before their form tarnished. Singh not only helped in the forward gameplay but also helped to defend against opposition teams by tracking back and intercepting key passes in the midfield which made him a cult figure among the East Bengal fans.


Games: 14
Goals: 9

Games: 15
Goals: 8

Goals: 5


 Flop of the Season

Rehenesh TP:
Once considered as one of the finest keepers in India, Rehenesh’s performances only deteriorated as the season progressed. The former Shillong Lajong goalkeeper lost his positional sense as well as basic skills of a decent goalkeeper. Rehenesh has been criticised time and time again by East Bengal legends as well as fans, who protested against him and stopped him from entering the club premises earlier this month. The 24-year old goalkeeper’s worst match this season donning the East Bengal jersey has to be the one against Churchill Brothers at home where his lack of positional sense led him to concede two witless goals scored by Churchill forwards Anthony Wolfe and Ansumana Kromah. However, his performance in the most recent Kolkata derby led to the mass hysteria of East Bengal fans and after the managerial change AT the club, he was dropped to the reserves by assistant coach Ranjan Chowdhury.


Rehenesh’s Performance in I-League 2016-17 

Matches : 15

Goals conceded:13

Clean Sheet: 5


 Top 3 Performances 


  1. East Bengal 2-1 Bengaluru FC (Match Report)

  2. Minerva Punjab FC 0-5 East Bengal (Match Report)

  3. Bengaluru FC 1-3 East Bengal (Match Report and Highlights)



 Coach’s Report Card


With all the expectations on his shoulders, Trevor Morgan kick-started his I-League campaign on a rather low note. Although a fans’ favourite, Morgan seemed content with the draw against Aizawl FC in the opening match. As the season progressed, the fans saw a different East Bengal emerge, one which looked to outscore its opponents in order to register a win. As the head coach, Morgan had poured all his time and experience as well as resources behind the forward line-up of the time but kept the defence ill-equipped. The East Bengal defence was taken advantage of several times in the first few matches, glitches were starting to show in open daylight. However, Morgan decided not to put any more efforts than he was already providing to make sure those glitches don’t expand to a crater, in which he failed miserably. The British-born coach showed poor man management skills and his lack of strategies and bias towards a certain kind of gameplay led the team to drop points on eight different occasions, which in turn cost the Kolkata giants yet another title.

 Lesson to be learned

Considering all the disastrous moments this season, East Bengal need to take a few steps to ensure the freeflow of silverwares in the coming seasons. The century-old club has retained several of their experienced players from the past seasons, however, as this season came to the eclipse it is now clear as water that several of them are now lacking the quality to perform consistently at this level. Another thing that has been clear is the lack of pace in the team, especially in the defence. The East Bengal defence has been bettered several times by teams with more speed and agility and failed miserably to cope with it. Lastly, the Red and Gold must find a good enough candidate for the fourth foreigner slot, which is to be filled with a foreign player with Asian origin. The lack of the fourth foreign player has cost the club dearly and unless the management wants to relive this year once again, these amends are a must for the club to keep performing at the level expected in the forthcoming seasons

 Fan View


Subhadeep Goswami


For us East Bengal fans, this season’s I-League was pretty much disappointing. We were good at the start, but couldn’t improvise later on. Successful teams possess this quality and East Bengal lacked it. If East Bengal were not inconsistent, we could have seen the league trophy at our club. This makes me sad. We haven’t won the league for so many years now. Probably some better team selection and using players in some different ways could help. I still do have faith in the club officials and management. Every process takes time and I hope the management will address these issues. I have high hopes for the upcoming Federation Cup.