Most of the clubs have tried to strengthen their squad for the rest of the season.
Almost all the I-League clubs have used the recently concluded winter transfer window to improve the quality of their teams. While some clubs had several holes to fill, others tried adding more firepower to their ranks as they enter the second half of the season.
Clubs like Mohun Bagan and Punjab FC made a few changes to their squad as they gear up for the title push. While Gokulam Kerala and Churchill Brothers have hardly made any changes and have shown trust in their existing players.
On the other hand, East Bengal and Aizawl have made a considerable amount of changes in a bid to overturn their season which hasn’t been great till now.
Here is the I-League 2020 Winter transfer window round-up:
The People’s Club made a decent start but too many draws and disappointments have left them in the bottom half of the table. Therefore, Stanley Rozario has strengthened his foreign contingent with centre back Joseph Adjei, forward Abdoulaye Kanoute and Justice Morgan and midfielder Matias Veron.
Aizawl have also signed local talents in Zothanmawia (Goalkeeper), Lalthlahlova (Defender), Ramhlunchhunga (Winger) and MC Malsawmzuala (Forward), who performed well in the Mizo Premier League. They have released Malian attacking midfielder Aliou Sissoko in the transfer window.
Chennai City FC
The reigning champions have had a tough first leg in their title defence and they have not shown much activity in the transfer market as well. The departure of Pedro Manzi was the biggest blow for them in the transfer window. The Uruguayan left for greener pasture in Japan as he joined J2 outfit Albirex Niigata.
However, they managed to rope in his replacement in Jan Muzangu who has joined the club on loan from FC Basel. Former defender Tarif Akhand has also re-joined the club on loan from Hyderabad FC. Lastly, former Gokulam Kerala midfielder Rohit Mirza has also joined the club after a long injury layoff.
Muzangu is predominantly a right-winger but can play anywhere up front. He has shown glimpses of his brilliance in their match against Mohun Bagan and once he settles in he can be a real asset for Akbar Nawas’ men.
The Red Machines have fared really well under their Portuguese head coach Bernardo Tavares. Churchill Brothers still have a few games in hand in their first leg and they have shown signs of challenging Mohun Bagan for the title this season.
The former champions had a foreign slot left and they have signed Portuguese winger Socrates Pedro to add more firepower upfront. Socrates last played for Lusitano SAD in the lower divisions of Portugal. The 27-year old is mainly a left-winger but can play on either flank and has a great eye for goal with pace to burn.
If he gets his combination right with Dawda Ceesay and Willis Plaza, he can raise mayhem for the Red Machines.
It has not been a good first leg of I-League for the Red and Golds so far. They sacked head coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia following a derby defeat against Mohun Bagan. Mario Rivera has replaced Menendez at the helm and is positive of steering the ship to safer shores.
The club have shown character to sign Asumana Kromah, who was the top scorer in this season’s Calcutta Football League where he inspired his team, Peerless SC to create history by clinching the title. Kromah comes in as a replacement for Borja Gomez Perez who had to leave for Spain due to his son’s ill health.
Players like Abash Thapa, Edmund Lalrindika (on loan from Bengaluru) and Monotosh Chaklader were also captured to bolster the team on all fronts. Meanwhile, they released Goa Pro League top-scorer Ronaldo Oliveira and youth academy graduates Ayon Roy and Subhonil Ghosh.
The club have been dormant in the January transfer window as their head coach Fernando Santiago has utmost trust and belief that the likes of Marcus Joseph, Henry Kisekka and Mohammad Irshad will do the job for him in the second leg of the season.
The development team of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) uncharacteristically have added a player to their team in this winter transfer window. 21-year old custodian, Anuj Kumar has joined the Arrows side on loan from Hyderabad FC.
The Mariners are simply unstoppable at the moment under the tutelage of Kibu Vicuna. But that was not the case at the start of the season and the Spaniard has made some good changes to make amends.
Salva Chamorro who failed to impress the coach and the fans was released while Indian players, Imran Khan and Koushik Sarkar came to a mutual agreement to part ways. While Julen Colinas suffered a season-ending injury. In came Papa Babacar Diawara as Chamorro’s replacement and Komron Tursunov joined from Istiklol FC to fill in for Colinas.
Later former Aizawl FC goalkeeper Avilash Paul joined the side on loan from ATK. Babacar Diawara has been influential ever since his arrival on Indian soil.
He has scored four goals till now and his goals in the Kolkata Derby and against Chennai City FC helped the Mariners bag all three points. The former Sevilla man took his time to settle in this new environment but now has developed into vital cog for Vicuna.
Gift Raikhan’s men have not struck the right chords in terms of selecting the correct players at the start of the season and hence they have struggled in several aspects of their gameplay. However, they made some adjustments and roped in Manipuri midfielder Imran Khan and forward Pritam Singh.
Former Mohammedan Sporting forward, Philipp Adjah was also roped in to support Boubacar Diarra who has been influential for them upfront. Forward Subhash Singh and defender Govin Singh were signed by the club in an attempt to finish at a respectable position in the league.
The Warriors have performed really well in the first leg of the I-League and they are second in the points table only behind the high flying Mohun Bagan. As always Punjab FC have been active in the transfer market as they signed Indian players in Nirmal Chettri and Alwyn George.
They made changes to their foreign contingent as well as they roped in Brazilian forward Valci Junior and recently signed former Aizawl and Mohun Bagan defender Eze Kingsley. Punjab released English forward Jay Hart who failed to impressed head coach Yan Law.
Kingsley has loads of experience as the Nigerian centre back has won the title with Aizawl and have also captained Mohun Bagan for a couple of years. He will definitely add more steel to the Punjab FC defence.
The Snow Leopards have had a topsy turvy journey in the I-League till now and one thing that they have lacked is consistency. However, they have shown activity in the winter transfer window and has roped experienced forward in Robin Singh.
He is likely to replace Subhash Singh who has re-signed for NEROCA. Along with Robin, Sena Ralte has also joined Real Kashmir to add more firepower to their defence.
Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) FC
It has been a month full of drama for the I-League debutantes as they went on an unbeaten spree and then suddenly sacked their head coach Dimitris Dimitrou. In terms of signings, there hasn’t been much activity from the Manipuri outfit as their Indian youngsters have performed really well till now.