Indian Super League (ISL) Chennaiyin FC have extended the contract of versatile forward Connor Shields for another season.

Shields joined the Marina Machans from Motherwell FC in 2023. Since then he has played a total of 27 matches for the team in all competitions, scoring five goals and registering four assists.

The 26-year-old forward from Scotland has become an integral part of the team’s front line and has played a crucial role in its success on many occasions.

Head coach Owen Coyle expresses confidence in Shields’ abilities to continue playing for the team in the upcoming season.

“Absolutely delighted to have Connor Shields back. After how well Connor did last year within the club and has played a year. Pace, power, adaptability, plays a number of positions and an outstanding lad as well. Very highly regarded by his teammates and his qualities really shone through for us. So, it’s great news for the club to have Connor back and an

Outstanding ability, a fantastic crosser of the ball. Can score a goal, create a goal and we’re delighted to have him back,” Coyle commented on the extension.

Shields made 21 appearances for the club in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season and looks to deliver quality performances for the team in the upcoming season as well.

“I am thrilled to extend my stay at Chennaiyin FC. The support from the fans, working with the gaff and everything that is being done for the upcoming season makes it even more exciting. I look forward to contributing all I have,” commented Shields after committing to the club for another year.

The forward’s presence in Chennaiyin FC will continue to boost the team’s offensive prowess, with his anticipated pivotal role likely to bring significant quality and energy to their performance on the field.

East Bengal FC sign Mark Zothanpuia on a three-year deal

East Bengal FC have announced the signing of promising India U-23 player Mark Zothanpuia on a three-year contract that will run until the end of the 2026-27 season. Zothanpuia is a versatile footballer who can play in both midfield and defence.

Welcoming Zothanpuia to the East Bengal FC family, Mr Vibhash Vardhan Agarwal of Emami Group said, “Mark is one of the most versatile young players in India and is a valuable addition to our squad. The future is bright for him and we’ll nurture him to bring out his best abilities.”

East Bengal FC Head Coach Carles Cuadrat highlighted Zothanpuia’s versatility, saying, “Mark is a young player with excellent qualities. His versatility will allow us to consider him for different roles to help the team. He has gained a decent amount of ISL experience and is joining East Bengal at the right phase of his career, to reach the next level as a player. We’ll give him the right environment to ensure his growth and success.”

Born in Mizoram, Zothanpuia was part of FC Pune City’s youth team and Hyderabad FC’s reserve team before being promoted to Hyderabad FC’s first team in the 2020-21 season. The 22-year-old rose to prominence in the previous season, starting regularly for Hyderabad FC and emerging as one of their key players.

Zothanpuia was part of HFC’s 2021-22 ISL Cup-winning squad. Zothanpuia played a total of 1,971 minutes across 24 matches (18 in the ISL, 3 in the Kalinga Super Cup and 3 in the Durand Cup) last season.

Primarily a midfielder, Zothanpuia seamlessly adapted to the left-back position where his consistency earned him a spot in the India U-23 squad for the friendlies against Malaysia in March this year.

Having played as left back, left wing-back, defensive midfielder and centre back in the 2023-24 ISL, Zothanpuia registered 1 assist, an 81% passing accuracy, 23 key passes, 73 successful duels, 95 recoveries, 20 interceptions and 26 clearances, besides creating 24 chances in 18 appearances.

Expressing his excitement, Zothanpuia said, “It’s a dream for any young Indian player to play for a big club like East Bengal. Kolkata is the Mecca of Indian football and I can’t wait to experience the amazing support from the East Bengal fans. I am grateful to Coach Carles and the East Bengal management for showing faith in me.”

FC Goa rope in Muhammad Hammad from FC 1

Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa roped in Jammu and Kashmir defender Muhammad Hammad from FC 1, the club announced on Saturday.

Signing a multi-year contract, Hammad will join the Gaurs for the upcoming 2024-25 season and beyond, marking an exciting new chapter in his career.

Born and raised in Jammu & Kashmir, Hammad’s football journey began with Lonestar Kashmir FC in the I-League 2nd Division. His impressive performances earned him a spot on the J&K state team for the Santosh Trophy in the 2015-2016 season. The defender then joined Real Kashmir FC, where his defensive prowess helped the Snow Leopards clinch the I-League 2nd Division title in the 2017-18 season and secure promotion to the I-League.

He then made an immediate impact in the I-League, debuting in a 1-0 victory over defending champions Minerva Punjab FC in the opening game of the 2018-19 season. He also showcased his skills in the Durand Cup, contributing to Real Kashmir’s advance to the semi-finals, where they eventually faced Mohun Bagan after advancing from a group that included FC Goa’s Reserves Team.

Following stints with Jaipur Elite FC in the Rajasthan State League and FC 1 in the J&K Premier Football League, Muhammad Hammad rejoined Real Kashmir on loan for the 2023-24 season from FC 1. As captain, he played every minute of the I-League, leading his team to a commendable fifth-place finish and earning the prestigious Jarnail Singh Award for Best Defender of the season.

His remarkable campaign included an assist, 12 clean sheets, and versatility across the backline, helping Real Kashmir concede just 19 goals in 24 matches.

The centre-back’s stellar performances caught the attention of then-Indian national team coach Igor Stimac, leading to his call-up to the probables’ camp for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. His impending debut in the Indian Super League (ISL) with FC Goa will mark a significant milestone as he becomes the first player from Jammu & Kashmir to represent the Gaurs.

Lokesh Bherwani, FC Goa’s Director of Football, expressed his enthusiasm about the signing.

“We are delighted to welcome Muhammad Hammad to FC Goa. His consistent performances, leadership, and versatility make him an invaluable addition to our squad. Hammad’s journey reflects his dedication and resilience, and we believe he will continue to grow and contribute significantly to our success in the upcoming season,” he said.

Muhammad Hammad also shared his excitement: “Joining FC Goa is a dream come true for me. The club’s vision and commitment to excellence resonate with my personal goals, and I am eager to bring my best to the pitch. I look forward to representing the Gaurs and making my mark in the ISL.

“This opportunity means a lot to me and to be the first from my region to play for FC Goa is a proud moment,” the 26-year-old added.