Profile: Who is East Bengal’s new forward Eliandro?
The Brazilian come with experience of playing in Asian football.
SC East Bengal have splashed a significant fee to sign striker Eliandro ahead of the ISL 2022/23 season. The Kolkata-based outfit have been making waves in this transfer window as they announced 13 signings earlier. Emami and East Bengal’s joint venture has allowed the Red and Gold Brigade to benefit from a generous influx of funds. After a gloomy ISL 2021/22 season, the legacy club is primed to deliver a statement.
The Red & Gold Brigade signed Eliandro, who is one of the five newly-announced foreign signings. Silky-skilled Cleiton Silva is also part of that contingent as the former Bengaluru FC man joined the side. The other signings also feature some familiar faces in FC Goa’s captain Ivan Gonzalez and Jamshedpur FC star Alex Lima.
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Former Indian national team manager Stephen Constantine has been chosen to take over the reins at the helm of head coach. All eyes will be on the coach and the players to not only improve their result from last season but also to mount a title challenge.
Eliandro has a crucial role to play while helping SC East Bengal reach that objective. Fans will be excited at the prospect of another Brazilian joining their ranks after stars like Douglas and Cristiano Jr. A seasoned centre-forward, he is capable of leading the attack in all senses. Here is what he brings to the table at SC East Bengal.
The 32-year-old Brazilian forward broke through at second-tier Brazilian side Cruzeiro EC and has won silverware in Lithuania and Malta. Eliandro has also played for a host of Thai League 1, clubs. He last played for Samut Prakan City but has also donned the colours of Chiangmai, Suphanburi, and Chonburi.
Prior to moving to Chonburi in December 2020, Eliandro made 13 league appearances in total at Suphanburi. Before that, the forward plied his trade with Red Bull Bragantino in the Brasileiro Serie A. He joined Maltese side Birkirkara FC, with whom he won the Maltese FA Cup and Super Cup. This will be Eliandro’s first stint in India.
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Club career stats
The striker has 245 games under his belt across clubs in various competitions over the years. He played the highest number of games for Sau Paulo side Guarani where he scored 11 goals across 37 appearances. Apart from Guarani, he has made 10 appearances for Cruzeiro and America Mineiro FC, scoring twice and thrice respectively.
He has 12 appearances in the Brasileiro Serie A and 56 appearances in the Brasileiro Serie B. In Malta, he featured extensively for Birkirkara FC, appearing 16 times and scoring twice. The majority of his feats were in the Thai League for clubs Chiangmai, Suphanburi, Chonburi and Samut Prakan City.
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With 13 appearances and four goals each for Suphanburi and Chonburi, the forward joined Samut Prakan City last season. For City, he scored three and assisted three across 16 appearances. His debut Thai League season with Chiangmai was his highest-scoring campaign as he found the back of the net 12 times over 29 appearances.
Last season’s performance
Samut Prakan City could not stay afloat as they finished 15th and were relegated to the second tier of Thai professional football. Eliandro scored thrice in that run. His disciplinary record is surely a concern as he received one yellow card in 15 appearances. Earlier he had been sent off once for Suphanburi and picked up seven yellow cards for Chiangmai. Despite being older than most, playing 1320 minutes is an excellent indicator of his physical fitness.
Type of player
The Brazilian is a ruthless fox-in-the-box. His one-touch finishing and expert speed on the turn make him a deadly striker. Despite not being the fastest of players, he makes up for it with his intelligent positioning and physical prowess. Eliandro's deft movement also allows him to drift wide and pick out central runners to set up goals. This makes him a tricky player to deal with for any opponent.
Although finishing is his forte, he can easily drop deep to help out his teammates in low-block situations. His bulky build belies his quick feet and ability to turn defenders inside-out within the box. Almost expectedly he is also a reliable aerial threat and can turn in headers effortlessly. However, he would need to work on his scoring frequency, which stands at a goal every 676 minutes.
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How the player fits in the head coach’s plans
Stephen Constantine will have his work cut out while selecting his preferred forward line among a plethora of options. He prefers a 3-5-2 formation but can employ a 4-3-3 setup with Eliandro employed as a lone striker. A 3-5-2 system will most likely have the Brazilian playing alongside Cleiton as one of the two forwards.
The massive number of signings have been impressive and it will be interesting to see how Constantine deploys them. Eliandro is expected to be one of the pivotal figures in the squad and his success is likely to be directly proportional to the team’s. A debut stint may sound nervy, but the Brazilian has already excelled elsewhere and is sure to succeed.
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