The outfit is first club from the Pink City of Jaipur to compete in the I-League.

Club Name: Rajasthan United FC

Year Founded: 2018 (as JECRC FC, rebranded in 2020 as Rajasthan United FC)

Home Ground: Rajasthan University Sports Complex, Witty Sports Club

Owner: RUFC Sports Private Limited

Manager: Francesc Bonet

League: I-League

Club History

The club was founded in 2018 as JECRC FC (Jaipur Engineering College and Research Centre FC) by an engineering student, Kamal Singh Saroha, in collaboration with his colleagues. Later in 2020, the club was rebranded as Rajasthan United FC, after the introduction of Rajat Mishra and Swapnil Dhaka as the co-founders.

In their inaugural year, they went on to win the Rajasthan State League and in the following year, made a second-place finish to seal their place in the I-League qualifiers.

On October 23, 2021, the team emerged as the newcomers to the I-League after ending their I-League qualifiers campaign on the top of the table.

Eventually, they became the first club from Rajasthan to make it to the I-League.

The Manager

After their qualification to the I-League, the Rajasthan United FC management appointed Francesc Bonet as their new head coach. Apparently, the 28-year-old is the youngest coach in this season of the I-League; the third after Khalid Jamil of Mumbai FC (32) and Yan Law of Minerva Punjab FC (26).

Bonet is a UEFA Pro License holder. Previously, the Spaniard had been associated with clubs like FC Martinenc, CE L’Hospitalet, UD Park and CF Almogavers. At CF Almogavers, he was also the technical director for a short span of time.

Apart from these clubs, the tactician was also a coach at the Barca Academy (FC Barcelona). Thus, it is clear from his resume, how much pedigree he’ll bring to the Western outfit.

Squad Analysis

Rajasthan United
Rajasthan United are the first team from the state to play in the I-League (Courtesy: RUFC Media)

After the appointment of Francesc Bonet as their new tactician, the club has already signed a few high-profile footballers. Gearing up in full force for the I-League, the new entrants have secured the signatures of Pintu Mahata and Abhishek Ambekar, who has prior experience of playing for both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

Apart from them, Aman Chhetri, a former Chennaiyin FC and Indian Arrows prospect has also been included in the side. Most of their squad, however, comprises of comparatively lesser-known players. The club is still expected to sign a few footballers ahead of the campaign.

They are also likely to announce the signing of Brazilian midfielder Fabiano Alves soon. The midfielder, who has prior experience of playing for clubs like Palmeiras and Corinthians, can also play as a defender. With Alves’ introduction, the club will complete their foreign signings for this season.

Three Top Signings

Marcelinho

Marcelinho
Marcelinho will be playing in the I-League for the first time (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Rajasthan United FC hushed everyone after they bagged former ISL star Marcelinho. The midfielder has played for clubs like Delhi Dynamos, Hyderabad FC, Odisha FC and ATK Mohun Bagan. The Brazilian has 79 appearances in the Indian Super League and has scored 33 goals and created 18 chances.

Keeping aside the statistics, the experience which he’ll bring to the side will be immense. Undoubtedly, he is the most mind-boggling signing made by the club till now.

Komron Tursunov

Komron Tursunov
Tursunov played for TRAU FC and won the I-League with Mohun Bagan previously (Courtesy: AIFF Media)

One of the club’s new signings. Tursunov had won the I-League with Mohun Bagan. The 25-year-old Tajik international knows the league well. In his 22 appearances for both Mohun Bagan and TRAU FC, the forward has scored eight goals and assisted nine times. He will surely be a decisive figure upfront for the debutants.

Pintu Mahata

Mahata is someone who has plied his trade for both Kolkata Giants, Mohun Bagan (2018/19) and East Bengal (2019/20). He has the reputation of scoring in the famous Kolkata Derby and also winning the Man of the Match in the same.

He recently featured in the Durand Cup for the Indian Navy. Despite playing for quite some time in the league, Mahata has been unable to get a goal to his name. His addition to the Rajasthan United brigade will mean that his hunger for goal will be more in the forthcoming season.

Tentative Squad

Goalkeepers: Vishal Joon, Ayush Jena, Gaurav Kumar Singh, Bhaskar Roy.

Defenders: Gurmukh Singh, Floyd John Dharmai, Aravind Sharma, Mehul Bisht, Shreyansh Choudhary, Hardik Bhatt, Abhishek Ambekar, Maneshwar Mushahary, Prashant Choudhary, Kanad Meena.

Midfielders: Aman Thapa, Inder Mohan Singh, Raja Musharaf, Rudra Pratap Singh Bisht, Akeem Abioye, Dilliram Sanyasi, Apoorv Arohi, Surag Chettri, Sanjay Lamba, Nitesh Sharma, Mukul Singh, Ningthoujam Pritam Singh, Pintu Mahata, Shilton D’Silva, Marcelinho.

Forwards: Sukhjit Singh, Harpreet Singh, Harmanjot Singh, Gyamar Nikum, Komron Tursunov, Aman Chetri, Diego Bilkiewicz.

Owner

The club was initially founded by Kamal Singh Saroha. Along with him, the club has two more co-owners, Swapnil Dhaka and Rajat Mishra. The latter is currently the director of the club. Notably, Singh and Mishra were also footballers of the team.

Style of Play

With the introduction of Francesc Bonet, Rajasthan United are likely to play some swift possession-based football. The traditional tiki-taka would be too much to demand, as the style requires nurturing from the grassroot levels. Rajasthan United are too new to be in that position. They also have some exciting wingers in the team and so expect dominant wingplay.

Stadium

The club uses the Rajasthan University Sports Complex. The ground has a capacity of 6000. Simultaneously, Rajasthan United is also using the Witty Sports Club at Bhilwara.

Grassroots Development

Rajasthan United
Rajasthan United have multiple academy teams (Courtesy: RUFC Media)

The club has set-up a residential academy in Bhilwara, Rajasthan. The campus provides brilliant infrastructure in the form of a full-fledged gymnasium and possesses artificial turf alongside medical and educational facilities. The aim of the programme is to nurture young athletes from across the country.

International grade training, sports-science driven curriculum and the guidance of international and national coaches will enable the colts to bolster themselves. The academy has teams ranging between the U-11 and U-18 level.

Road to the I-League

Rajasthan United
Rajasthan United won the I-League Qualifiers 2021 to earn promotion to the I-League (Courtesy: RUFC Media)

The club won the Rajasthan State League in their inaugural year itself. In their second season, after securing a second position in the Rajasthan State League, the club earned a place in the I-League qualifiers. On October 23, 2021, they ended their campaign on the most superior position, after a goalless draw with Kenkre FC, to mark the rise of a new dawn in Rajasthan.

Rajasthan FC are the first-ever team from the state to qualify for the I-League. In the near future, the club and its grassroot programme is expected to inspire other institutions from the state to enter the sport in a professional capacity.

The club will begin its debut I-League campaign on December 26 and take on RoundGlass Punjab FC at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium.

Behind the Scenes

Rajasthan United’s promotion to the I-League will certainly act as an inspiration to more clubs of the state. The act is eventually expected to aware and inspire more budding talents of the state to enter the Indian football vertical.

Hopefully, Rajasthan FC will emerge as a powerhouse in Indian football in the future, and ensure the rise of more local talents.

In a few years, if they can achieve the feat of qualifying for the Indian Super League, perhaps history will be recreated by them again and people all across the nation will witness an impeccable club from the state of Rajasthan.

How will they fare

In the I-League qualifiers, under the guidance of Vikrant Sharma, the club locked horns against the likes of FC Bengaluru United and Delhi FC. They remained unbeaten in the campaign with three wins to their name.

In the preliminary round, they defeated Ryntih FC (3-2) and secured two 1-1 draws against Bengaluru United and Madan Maharaj FC. They defeated the likes of Delhi FC (1-0) and Madan Maharaj FC (2-0) in the final round.

Needing only a draw in their final game, Rajasthan United played a goalless stalemate against Kenkre FC (0-0) to emerge as champions of the second division. Keeping their nets unruffled in the final round was surely an achievement for the three-year-old club.

After gaining qualification and signing a few stalwarts of Indian football, Rajasthan United will be expected to deliver diligently under the tutelage of Francesc Bonet. The I-League will not be the same as the qualifiers and the club will take on opponents like Aizawl FC, Churchill Brothers, Mohammedan SC, Gokulam Kerala FC and others. How they manage to tackle the proceedings will be something to keep our eyes on.

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