Sandesh Jhingan departs ATK Mohun Bagan; Eli Sabia extends Jamshedpur FC stay; Chennaiyin FC sign local talent Ajith Kumar

Defender Sandesh Jhingan ends his journey with ATK Mohun after spending half a season with the Mariners, the club announced his departure through their social media handles, on Thursday.

Juan Ferrando’s men glided to the semi-finals of the Hero ISL 2021-22 season on the shoulders of Sandesh Jhingan alongside Tiri, Pritam Kotal, and Subhasish Bose.

The defender left for Croatian top-tier club HNK Sibenik after the culmination of Hero ISL 2020-21. But an injury marred campaign crippled his move to the club following which Jhingan rejoined the Kolkata-based club.

Making his Hero ISL debut with Kerala Blasters FC, the centre-back was adjudged as the Emerging Player of the League in the inaugural season in 2014.

Undoubtedly one of the best defenders Hero ISL has ever produced, the 29-year-old still remains in contention as one of the best defenders to ever play for the nation.

The centre-back, who was named as AIFF Player of the Year for the 2020-21 campaign, is also an Arjuna Award winner. Jhingan has built his reputation over the years by plying his trade for big clubs such as Kerala Blasters FC and Bengaluru FC.

Jhingan made nine appearances for the Mariners in Hero ISL 2021-22, making 30 clearances, 25 tackles, 14 interceptions, and 13 blocks along with a passing accuracy of 86%.

Eli Sabia signs contract extension

Eli Sabia has signed a contract extension with Jamshedpur FC ahead of the upcoming season of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). The one-year extension will keep him at the club till 2023, the club announced the extension through their social media handles, on Thursday.

“I see Jamshedpur as a club and a city with big ambitions. We became Champions of India last season, and I come again with the aim of defending this title, bringing more glory and breaking more records in front of the packed JRD Tata Sports Complex. Look forward to working with a head coach who is renowned for getting the best out of the players” said Eli on signing with Jamshedpur.

The centre-back with his tall and commanding presence joined Jamshedpur ahead of the 2021-22 season and was an integral part of the Men of Steel that won the Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield. The defender recorded impressive stats of 66 clearances, 25 interceptions, 1 goal and 1 assist forming a formidable partnership with Peter Hartley. 

Aidy Boothroyd was delighted to see the player retained and said “I am happy that Eli has chosen to stay with Jamshedpur Football Club. He is one of the best defenders in the league and has shown his leadership qualities both on and off the pitch. He has the attitude to keep performing and I’m excited to work with him.” 

Hailing from Sao Paulo, Eli began his career at local club Paulista, progressing through the ranks before appearing for the senior team. He had several high-profile loan spells during his time at Paulista, with one of them at Swiss top division outfit FC Lausanne in 2007- 08 besides stints at Brazilian giants Santos and Atletico Paranaense.

At Santos in 2009-10, he was teammates with Brazilian superstar Neymar, who was enjoying his breakthrough season at the time. The 32-year-old comes with five seasons of the Hero ISL under his belt including his time at Chennaiyin FC, where he also helped his team to finals of the Hero ISL 2019-20 and the Hero Super Cup in 2019.

Eli will don jersey number 13 and will join his teammates for pre-season which is scheduled to begin mid-August.

Chennaiyin FC rope in local talent Ajith Kumar

Chennaiyin FC have completed the signing of local lad Ajith Kumar ahead of the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season, the club announced the signing through their social media handles, on Thursday.

The Chennai-born defender will be joining his home side following a two-year stint at Bengaluru FC.

Welcoming Ajith into the club, Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani said: “We always love it when we bring a performing Chennai player back to this city and that's exactly what Ajith Kumar is.”

The 25-year-old, who usually plays in the left-back position, featured in 13 matches in the last two Indian Super League seasons for Bengaluru FC. He also played in four AFC Cup as well as five Durand Cup matches for them.

Ajith is returning to the city where he began his professional career. In 2018, he made his professional debut with Chennai City FC and went on to play a crucial role in the club’s maiden I-League title-winning campaign, appearing in all 20 league games.

“Feels good to come back to Chennai, but this time as a Chennaiyin FC player. I can't wait to play in front of the home fans,” Ajith expressed his excitement on returning to home city.

During his two-year stint with Chennai City, Ajith made 42 appearances across competitions, including Super Cup and AFC Cup.

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