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East Bengal sign Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Mandar Rao Desai, Edwin

East Bengal pipped Odisha FC to get Mandar Rao Desai while it is a homecoming after 7 years for Khabra. EB are now pursuing a top Australian defender.

East Bengal sign Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Mandar Rao Desai, Edwin

Harmanjot Khabra returns to East Bengal after 7 years (ISL)


Swapnomoy Chakraborty

Updated: 19 Jun 2023 10:32 AM GMT

East Bengal FC confirmed the signings of former captain Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Mandar Rao Desai and Edwin Vanspaul.

In an official press release, the club stated that they have secured the signing of Vanspaul on a 2-year deal while Mandar and Khabra will be at the club on one-year deals. These signings will definitely be a great boost to the entire East Bengal FC squad.

Harmanjot Singh Khabra is one of the fan favorites of the Red and Gold brigade. He was with the East Bengal team for 7 seasons. Though primarily a right-back, he can play at almost every position on the field. His ability to play at any position on the field can be an added advantage to the torchbearers.

However, he has slowed down a bit due to his age which can create problems during overlap.

Khabra said, “I am incredibly excited to return home. This club has given me so much and here’s a chance for me to relive all of that! I can’t wait to give my 100% in front of our fans. I am especially looking forward to the derby, a game that always gave us an extra push in the past. There’s also a sense of excitement to be working with Coach Carles again, who has played a big role in making me a better player.”

It was very tough for East Bengal to secure the services of Mandar Rao Desai. Odisha FC enquired about his availability and was desperate in securing his services. However, it was East Bengal who emerged as the Victorians in this race.

Mandar Rao Desai can be a great asset to the East Bengal team management. He has already made over 100 league appearances in the Hero ISL. The coach Carles Cuadrat will definitely try to utilize his speedy overlaps and excellent footwork. However, his tendency to keep the ball too much with him can be a problem.

He commented, “It feels great to join East Bengal. It’s a new challenge for me and I want to contribute to the team in whatever capacity is required of me. Coach Carles is a fine tactician and a wonderful human being. I am glad to get another opportunity of playing under him. I can’t wait to wear the Red & Gold jersey and help the team win.”

Vanspaul, whose four-year stint with Chennaiyin FC ended last month, is all set to start a new chapter. The Tamil Nadu-born footballer was instrumental in Chennai City

FC’s only Hero I-League triumph in 2018-19 before making his foray into the Hero ISL the following season. Vanspaul played a massive part in helping CFC finish runners-up in the 2019-20 Hero ISL, switching seamlessly from a full-back role to a midfield role.

In 71 Hero ISL appearances so far, the 30-year-old has registered 1 goal, 3 assists, 1,811 passes, 101 interceptions, and 97 clearances.

On joining Emami East Bengal, Vanspaul said, “We all know about Kolkata’s football heritage and legacy. So, for me, joining an iconic club like East Bengal is a huge deal. Whenever I’ve played against East Bengal in the past, I’ve always marveled at the club’s spectacular fan base. I want to be a part of this culture now. I can’t wait to play under Coach Carles and reunite with my good friend Nandha.”

East Bengal are now eyeing to rope in the services of a goalkeeper and a center back by paying transfer fees. Also, they are looking to secure the signing of a top Australian center-back. With the team building process going in right direction now, it will be interesting to see how far this team can go under the able guidance of Carles Cuadrat.

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