Right from their inception, East Bengal are synonymous with struggle and grind and their journey to the Indian Super League (ISL) has been nothing short of that.
However, the club is now standing at the dawn of a new era with their entry into the top echelon of Indian football propelled by the introduction of their new investors – Shree Cements Private Limited.
The Red and Gold brigade have handed the baton of their team to Liverpool legend, Robbie Fowler, who will look to lead the side in their debut ISL campaign. He will be assisted by his group of chosen backroom staff along with former India and East Bengal player Renedy Singh, who will join as his assistant.
Despite their late entry, SC East Bengal have signed some exciting foreign players who may just set the league ablaze this season. So, let us take a look.
Scott Neville (Defender, Australia)
Having played under Robbie Fowler during his time at Brisbane Roar, Scott Neville became an obvious choice for the club as their AFC quota signing.
The 31-year old defender has bags of experience in the A-League, amassing over 200 appearances for clubs like Perth Glory, Newcastle Jets, Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar, and will join the Red and Gold on a season-long loan deal.
He had a pivotal role in defence for Brisbane in the 2019/20 campaign where they finished fourth in the league. Apart from playing as a centre-back, Neville is also well adept to play as a right-back if need be.
He has also featured in the AFC Champions League and his experience at the back will be crucial for SC East Bengal. Fowler will be tempted to pair him with Danny Fox at the heart of the defence.
Danny Fox (Defender, England/ Scotland)
The highly experienced Englishman was roped in by SC East Bengal to fortify the backline for the upcoming season. Considering the experience and the level of football that Danny Fox brings with him, one must not be surprised if Robbie Fowler hands him the captain’s armband.
The 34-year old defender, who can slot in both as a centre-back and a left-back depending on the coach’s requirement, will be shouldering the responsibility of leading East Bengal’s backline.
Fox has proven his mettle in England where he has spent the entirety of his career till now. While most of his appearances have been in the Championship, the 34-year old has also plied his trade in the Premier League with Burnley and Southampton.
While he is very solid defensively, his traits as a full-back allow him great skills with the ball. Fox is an equally adept crosser of the ball and if Fowler fancies him at left-back, he can be a great attacking threat with his runs down the left flank.
Anthony Pilkington (Winger, Republic of Ireland)
The Englishman is considered to be one of the high-profile names to join the ISL this season. Anthony Pilkington comes with a lot of experience, having played in the top divisions of England with different teams.
He featured in the Premier League for a couple of seasons with Norwich City. While the winger has mostly played in the Championship and League One, his 75 appearances in Premier League proves his worth as a player.
Pilkington has a bullet left foot and is very dangerous from set-piece situations. Although he is a winger, he can even facilitate in multiple positions in attack if needed.
The Republic of Ireland International brings in that attacking panache and the swagger to Fowler’s team which is needed if they are to succeed in the ISL.
Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Forward, Wales)
The Welshman is another player in this list who joins Robbie Fowler from his former team, Brisbane Roar. Aaron Amadi-Holloway has plied his trade in the lower divisions of English football before moving to Australia and joining Brisbane.
He is a centre-forward by trade who can play in multiple positions. He even featured as a centre-back during his time at Wycombe and Shrewsbury Town.
Holloway is not someone who will pull a rabbit out of the hat for Fowler but the Welshman is a workhorse on the field and that positive nature will transcend throughout the pitch among his teammates.
He is known for his physicality which helps him in holding the play up as a striker. Considering that SC East Bengal will bring in a proper foreign no.9, Holloway’s chances of starting for the Red and Golds may be limited.
Jacques Maghoma (Midfielder, DR Congo)
One of the bigger names in the list has to be Tottenham Hotspur youth graduate, Jacques Maghoma. The attacking midfielder, who can also feature on both flanks, joins SC East Bengal after spending half-a-decade at Birmingham City. He was one of the fan favourites at the St Andrew’s.
Maghoma, just like Pilkington, will bring in a lot of attacking and creative panache to the team and just like most of the foreign players, this will be the first time the 32-year-old will feature for a team outside England.
The DR Congo international has spent his entire career in the Championship and League Two of English football and has featured in a plethora of attacking and midfield positions for his teams.
Therefore, it will be a great advantage for Robbie Fowler to integrate him into the squad as per his liking. The former Birmingham man can become the creative nucleus of East Bengal as his exquisite dribbling and passing skills may allow him to pull the strings from midfield.
Ville Matti Steinmann (Midfielder, Germany)
German midfielder Ville Matti Steinmann registers his name in the long list of foreign players who are going to feature in the ISL from the A-League. The 25-year-old centre midfielder was part of the Wellington Phoenix setup last season, featuring in 23 matches in the A-League.
Steinmann came up through the Hamburger youth academy and was battle-hardened by featuring in the lower divisions of Germany, representing the age group teams of Hamburger over the years.
He ultimately fought his way up the top and represented Die Rothosen in the Bundesliga in 2014.
Steinmann struggled to keep pace with the Bundesliga level and hence was in and out of the first team. He then plied his trade in the Danish second division before moving to Australia.
The German is predominantly a defensive midfielder who likes to feature in a double pivot. However, considering his physical stature and ball-playing skills, he was sometimes used as a back-up centre back.
Steinmann will add balance to the Red and Gold brigade as he will shield the backline, break up play and allow the likes of Jacques Maghoma and Anthony Pilkington to move forward freely.
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