The 30-year-old won the A-League title with Perth Glory recently.
SC East Bengal continue to build on their foreign contingency for the 2021/22 Indian Super League (ISL) season. The club added defender Tomislav Mrcela to their ranks recently. The Australian centre-back will fit the Red & Gold’s Asian quota for the campaign.
Mrcela also becomes the replacement for Danny Fox, the club captain who left after last season. The 30-year-old Australian defender brings a lot of experience and has the physique to thrive in the ISL.
He’ll be responsible for strengthening their defence and supporting those around him. With the Red & Gold aiming to put their debut season blues behind them in the upcoming campaign, Mrcela will have to play a pivotal part to ensure they have one of the strongest defensive records in the league.
His career so far
Born in Perth, Australia, Mrcela actually holds dual citizenship of Croatia as well as Australia. He enjoyed his youth career at Croatian club RNK Split. Mrcela then spent the first years of his senior career with lower division Croatian sides Jadran Kastel and NK Primorac Stobrec.
However, the centre-back’s first real breakthrough came at the age of 20 when he joined Croatian fourth division side NK Imotski. He just missed one game for them in the 2011/12 season, making 29 appearances and scoring three goals.
After an impressive stint with the club, he was loaned to Croatian second division side NK Mosor in 2012. He performed well in the second division, before joining top division side NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac a year later. In the next few seasons, he played in the first division for Dragovoljac as well as Lokomotiva Zagreb.
During his time with Zagreb, Mrcela was able to play in the UEFA Europa League Qualifiers as well. In 2016, he decided to move back to Asia and joined South Korean side Jeonnam Dragons. After a few decent campaigns with them, he returned home to Perth and joined Perth Glory.
Tomislav Mrcela even helped guide Perth Glory to the A-League title in the 2018/19 season and enjoyed a memorable stint with them.
In his professional career, Mrcela has made more than 200 appearances at the club level. He made 41 appearances in his years with Imotski, scoring three goals and helping them maintain a decent defensive record.
The 30-year-old also made 27 appearances for Hrvatski Dragovoljac, before enjoying his most prolific period with Lokomotiva Zagreb. With the Croatian top division side, Mrcela enjoyed quite a few years and made 59 appearances – scoring two goals and registering an assist.
He also made 53 appearances for Jeonnam Dragons, being involved in seven goals with the South Korean club! Most recently, Mrcela played for Perth Glory and made 32 appearances for them in all competitions, scoring three goals and registering an assist.
Last Season’s Performances
Mrcela last played for Perth Glory in the 2019/20 season. The Australian defender made 18 appearances in the A-League, as they were able to qualify for the A-League playoffs. Mrcela was also able to score a couple of goals in those games and helped his side maintain a decent defensive record.
The defender also made two appearances in other cup competitions, including just a single appearance in their AFC Champions League campaign. Mrcela became a free agent in September 2020 and has since been the same before being he was signed by SC East Bengal.
Type of Player
Tomislav Mrcela is a dominant, towering centre-back, who likes to use his physique to his advantage on the pitch. The experienced defender stands at a commendable 6’4 and knows how to marshal his backline perfectly.
The 30-year-old is an aggressive defender, who relies on his strong tackles. He loves bullying centre-forwards with his physicality and has decent game-reading ability to clear away danger in and around the penalty area.
Mrcela is also extremely efficient in the air and wins most of his aerial duels. With his impressive reach, he’s likely to dominate strikers in aerial duels in the ISL. He’s also a big threat on set-pieces, having scored quite a few goals in his ventures with different clubs.
How does he fit into manager’s plans?
Because of his ability to play as an Asian player, Mrcela is likely to be a regular for SC East Bengal this season. While manager Manuel Diaz prefers to play attacking football, he’s obviously looking to solidify his defensive shape first.
With his physicality and height advantage, Mrcela should be the defensive general for SC East Bengal. He’ll probably play alongside their other new defender Franjo Prce at the heart of the defence.
SC East Bengal conceded the third-highest number of goals in the ISL last season. Tomislav Mrcela’s job will be to stop something like that from happening. He’ll be tasked by Diaz to dominate strikers and make good use of his physicality to form a dominant backline.
The 30-year-old’s decent ability to pass the ball out of the backline should also help with the Spaniard’s playing system. His main objective, however, remains to ensure the Red & Gold are unbreakable at the back.