We have shortlisted top five stars to have penned a deal with I-League 2nd division sides, who are believed to bring some sparkle to their team and the tournament as well. If everything goes right, we might witness them kicking in I-League next season.
There might be less excitement than normal before the new football season kicks off in the subcontinent. Keeping an eye on the current seriousness of COVID-19 in India, it’s highly unlikely for fans to return to the stands this season. The bigger clubs are already exercising their best to grab in some top deals while the relatively smaller ones basically those from the Indian third tier are also seen leaving no stone unturned.
Since the window is open, ISL and I-League outfits are reflecting their fishing skill by bringing in some exciting prospects to their respective camps. Meanwhile the I-League second division clubs are also adept at picking up some big names.
- Willis Plaza (Mohammedan SC, Striker)
The Trinidad international came to India in January 2017 when Kolkata giant East Bengal signed him from San Juan Jabloteh. No sooner than he netted his first goal a couple of weeks later, Plaza became a familiar name in the starting line up. The Red and Gold retained him for one more season. He appeared in 24 games and found the back of the net 11 times before moving to Churchill Brothers in 2018. His brace against ISL side Delhi Dynamos during Super Cup qualifier raised many eyebrows. He also represented Churchill Brothers in Goa Professional League that year. Plaza played a total of 32 games and scored 28 goals for the Red Machines.
In April 2019 he was loaned out to Bangladeshi side Bashundhara Kings and now Plaza has made a return to Mohammedan SC. The 33-year-old Caribbean baller is a prolific goalscorer and his dressing room presence is definitely going to boost the spirit at the Kolkata based side.
- Philip Adjah (Bhawanipore FC, Striker)
The most impressive fact about the Ghanaian forward is–he is just 22 but has already played two full seasons in India. During his inaugural run with Mohammedan Sporting, he scored 31 times during just 30 appearances. He then joined Calcutta Customs Club ahead of the CFL-2019 where he scored 4 goals in 6 games. Later he was roped in by NEROCA FC where his quick hat-trick against Punjab FC (then Minerva Punjab) made him a star overnight. He played 9 games for the Imphal based side and averaged one goal per match.
Bhawanipore FC have secured the deal of the Ghanaian talisman before their 2020-21 campaign that starts from October when they will compete in the I-League qualifier.
- William Opoku (Bengaluru United, Central Midfielder)
The 23-year-old was a part of Minerva Punjab FC that conquered I-League in 2017-18 where he had made a goalscoring debut. Despite being a midfielder, he scored 3 goals in his first 4 games. Opoku completed two stints with The Warriors where he went on scoring 7 goals in 29 appearances.
Although he couldn’t break into the starting lineup, William was a part of the English Premier League side Middlesbrough during 2016-17. Alongside, he also has represented his nation in 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations qualifying campaign. After leaving Punjab FC, he spent multiple short tenures at Ozone FC, BSS Sporting and Bhawanipore FC. Earlier this month, he was announced by Bengaluru United.
- Subhash Singh (Mohammedan SC, Winger)
Singam Subhash Singh started his journey from SAI, Manipur. Then he began his professional career with Air India and then played for East Bengal and Salgaocar. During these days he also represented India in U-19 and U-23 level. After a disappointing six months at Goa, he was loaned to Pune FC. With a brilliant display of speed and dribbling, he soon became a fan favourite. Manager Derrick Pereira signed him on a permanent deal. Subhash repaid him as he guided the club to a top-5 finish. He was awarded as Young Player of the Year in 2011-12.
Singh also featured in Mumbai City FC squad during 2014 season where he managed to score a maiden goal. He also spent some years at Shillong Lajong, Bharat FC and Mohun Bagan but failed to meet the expectations that he once cultivated in Pune FC shirt. Then he joined NEROCA FC in 2016 and was able to make some impact. This season, Subhash Singh will wear the colours of Kolkata based Mohammedan SC.
- SK Faiaz (Mohammedan SC, Midfielder)
The 25-year-old Bengal-born has been a part of Mohan Bagan whom he has served during three different loan stints—one from Mohammedan and two from ATK. During 34 games, he has delivered 3 goals for the Mariners. Faiaz was a part of the I-League winning squad of 2020. However, after the merger with ATK, he was not in the plans of gaffer Antonio Habas and has now returned to his boyhood club, Mohammedan Sporting.
It would be interesting to see how the young playmaker helps his side gain an I-League qualification this October.