The year 2012 saw some foreigners like Edeh Chidi, James Moga and Odafa Okolie steal the show in the I-League. But, this year, almost everything being new from sponsors to the structure of the league, we will also see some foreigners in action, for whom, it will be the first season in Indian soil.
In this article, the top five players among these new recruits will be examined:
5. Arturo Navarro, Sporting Clube De Goa
Arturo Navarro is a Spanish defender who would be seen in action this season with the #9 Sporting Goa Jersey. He may be just 24 years old, but he has already played in the prestigious Copa Del Rey.
Having spent many years in the Valencia CF youth team, he made his debut for the senior team in a Copa Del Rey match.
Then, after his quite successful stints in the Spanish clubs Ontinyent, Osasuna and Guijuelo, he was signed by Goa-based team Sporting Clube de Goa.
This young 6 feet man is known for his agility in the field and the way he stands like wall against the opponent’s strikers. We wish to see this currently in-form youngster perform really well in the 2013-14 I-League.
4. Billy Mehmet, Dempo Sports Club
Billy Mehmet is a 34-year-old highly talented English striker who will be seen this year in Dempo colours. He started his career for the West Ham Utd. Academy and spent a major part of his career there.
Then, in 2003, at just the age of 19, he was transferred to the Scottish Premier League side Dunfermline Athletic. After spending some successful years in St. Mirren, he also played in the Turkish Premier Lig sides Gençlerbirliği S.K. and Samsunspor.
He then went to Australia and played for the A-League side Perth Glory and was soon transferred to the Thai team Bangkok Glass in 2013. There, he had a short stint before being signed by Dempo S.C.
He was known from his young age for his superb skills and fitness. Though his fitness has deteriorated through the years, his skills are quite the same and still can be a huge threat to the opponent side.
3. Raúl Fabiani, Pune F.C.
Raul Fabiani is a 29-year-old Spain-born Equatoguinean who has made three appearances for the national team. Though he can play anywhere in the attacking line, his favourite position is the centre-forward.
Having spent many years playing in the lower levels of Spanish football, he made his Segunda Division debut in 2011 after scoring 12 goals in the previous season in the lower division.
Fabiani also represented Villarreal CF B, Moralo CP, CP Cacereño, UD Lanzarote, CD Teruel, Villajoyosa CF and Huracán Valencia CF and scored goals consistently.
On 5 August 2013. the 29-year-old moved teams and countries, signing with Pune FC. The deal between Pune FC and Raúl Fabiani was facilitated by Kickoff India.
His style of play has been lauded by various football experts around the world. We saw glimpses of his talent in his very first match for Pune F.C. where he scored 2 goals and assisted one.
2. Simon Colosimo, Dempo S.C.
Simon Colosimo is an experienced Australian defender who has been signed by Dempo for the 2013-14 season.
He suits best in the position of Central Defender and has represented the Australian national team for over 25 occasions.
He is a product of the Australian Institute of Sports and thereafter, he has played for more than 10 clubs spread around Australia, Malaysia, England and Belgium.
These include notable clubs like Royal Antwerp, South Melbourne and Perth Glory.
He was part of the Manchester City squad of the 2001-02 season and made 6 appearances for the side in the English Premier League.
He was finally signed by Dempo after making 60 appearances for Melbourne Heart from 2010 to 2013. He would certainly be one of the main attractions of this year’s I-League.
1. Cornell Glen, Shillong Lajong F.C.
Cornelius Glen is Trinidadian striker who will in action this season for Shillong Lajong F.C.
After starting his career for Trinidadian club FUTGOF, he made various successful stints for many clubs, like FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy and Ma Pau, spread across the USA and the Caribbean nations.
He has been a regular member of the Trinidad and Tobago national squad since 2002 and has scored goals consistently henceforth.
He was also part of the FIFA World Cup 2006 squad held in Germany. Like Fabiani, he has also made a blistering debut for Shillong scoring 2 goals.
So far, Lajong had been in the I-League as “minnows”, but it would interesting to see if he can remove that “minnows” tag this year.
Apart from the above mentioned players, we would see, many other highly talented foreigners play in this year’s I-League like Sean Rooney of Bengaluru, James Moga of East Bengal and James Meyer of Pune. This year’s I-League will also see some promising Indians and we wish them to perform as well as their foreign counterparts.