Indian Super League (ISL) side NorthEast United FC have signed defensive midfielder Mohammed Ali Bemammer for the 2023-24 season, the club announced on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old Moroccan reunites with head coach Juan Pedro Benali and he becomes the fifth foreign player for the campaign. Bemammer took his first steps in football at Maghreb de Fes in Morocco. Interestingly, it was under Benali, who was the club’s then-CEO, that he signed his first professional contract in 2009.

The defensive midfielder then went on to play for Raja Casablanca, Difaa Hassani El Jadidi, FAR de Rabat, and Ittihad Tanger before returning to his boyhood club last year. Benali and Bemammer were also briefly reunited at Ittihad Tanger where the Spaniard helped the club avoid relegation.

Commenting on the occasion, NorthEast United FC head coach, Benali said: "Ali is a very good player. I have known him since he was in the academy. He also played and scored some vital goals for the Moroccan national team. He is also a very good leader on and off the field. His presence, experience, and leadership qualities will give the team a big push this season."

Among the major competitions he has competed in, Bemammer has won the CAF Confederation Cup, Moroccan Throne Cup, North African Club Cup, and CAF Super Cup at the club level in 2011 and the 2021 African Nations Championship at the international level.

Speaking about embarking on a new challenge, he said, "I'm delighted to come to India and make the Hero Indian Super League my first experience outside of Morocco. I am very thankful for the support I got from Juan and he took the effort to explain everything about the new league. I am really excited to work with the coach again. Since we worked together previously, it makes it easier for us to understand each other. I hope together we can achieve great things at the club."

NorthEast United FC CEO Mandar Tamhane also weighed in on the signing, stating, "We are pleased to welcome Mohammed Ali Bemammer to NorthEast United FC. His track record and familiarity with head coach Juan Pedro Benali's style make him a valuable addition to our team. We look forward to a successful partnership and wish him the best for the upcoming season."

FC Goa sign defender Jay Gupta

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit FC Goa have bolstered their backline by signing Jay Gupta. The 21-year-old has joined the Gaurs on a two-year contract and has accompanied the team to the ongoing Durand Cup.

Gupta, primarily a centre-back, trained with FC Pune City for two years before participating in a development program with a Portuguese club. He has represented Portugal's Lisbon-based State League clubs such as GDS Cascais (jr) and Estoril Praia B. In the previous season, he was associated with the Spanish youth club Ebre Escola.