East Bengal FC made their first signing in the I-League January transfer window, getting Hyderabad FC's Abhas Thapa on loan till the end of the season. The left-winger played for Real Kashmir in the last edition of the I-League, making 15 appearances for the side that eventually finished third.
21-year-old Thapa rose through the Mohun Bagan youth system before he played for the Royal Wahingdoh FC, Bhowaniporee FC and Real Kashmir FC. Thapa's breakthrough season last year earned him a transfer to Hyderabad FC, the new entrants in the Indian Super League (ISL). However, no playing time meant that he was moved to the Kolkata-based East Bengal.
Thapa's club career thus far
Making his youth debut at Mohammedan, Thapa moved to Mohun Bagan and played in the Under-18 team for four years from 2012 to 2016. After gaining significant experience with the club, Thapa joined Royal Wahingdoh in 2016 and then played for the Bhowanipore FC next year. In the 2017-18 season, he played for the Real Kashmir FC, a side that was playing in the I-League 2nd Division that year. He made seven appearances for the team that was promoted to the top division thereafter. In the I-League 2018-19, Thapa started 15 times for Kashmir, after which his football journey seems to have taken off.
East Bengal in doldrums in I-League 2019-20
The East Bengal unit have not had the best run in the I-League this season, as they have struggled to get going. With just two wins in five games, the side is currently fourth on the rankings table with eight points. They suffered their first loss in the current edition last week, as they succumbed to a 0-1 loss against Churchill Brothers.
To make matters worse, Borja Gomez Perez, their 31-year old defender, had to return to Spain due to a "serious" family matter. According to reports, Kpah Sherman of Liberia could be an international recruit who is signed by East Bengal for the ongoing season of the I-League. Sherman played for the PKNS FC in the Malaysian Super League in 2019, netting 14 goals in 19 appearances.