Chennaiyin FC have retained six domestic players and signed defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo and midfielder Godwin Franco for the second Hero Indian Super League season.
The six retained domestic players from the first Hero ISL season are defenders Abhishek Das and Dhanachandra Singh, midfielder Harmanjot Singh Khabra and forwards Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh and Jayesh Rane.
While Abhishek, Dhanachandra, Jeje, Balwant, Jayesh, Mehraj and Godwin will be joining Chennaiyin FC as free agents after the end of the current I-League season, Khabra will be joining CFC on loan from East Bengal.
Mehraj played for FC Pune City in the first ISL and has plenty of experience at club and international level, having played for the India senior national team more than 30 times. The Kashmiri defender has won one SAFF Championship, two Nehru Cups and the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, which secured India’s entry to the Asian Cup for the first time in almost three decades.
Godwin was with ISL 2014 runners-up Kerala Blasters and has been in outstanding form for Shillong outfit Royal Wahingdoh in the I-League, scoring twice and being inspirational in their push for a top three finish. The versatile midfielder from Goa has also played for India at youth level.
Balwant became the first Indian scorer in ISL history last year when he netted in Chennaiyin’s first-ever game against FC Goa and the Punjabi striker has been instrumental in Mohun Bagan’s I-League title challenge with six goals already.
Jeje finished as the highest Indian scorer in the first ISL with four goals and has also played his part in Mohun Bagan’s title bid. The Mizoram forward was also part of India’s preliminary World Cup qualifying playoff win over Nepal back in March.
Khabra, who is the captain of East Bengal this season, was Chennaiyin’s Mr. Versatile last year, playing both in midfield and defence. He started in 15 of Chennaiyin’s 16 games and also had three assists.
Dhanachandra made 14 appearances for Chennaiyin last year, also scoring in the 3-0 away win over Mumbai City FC. The left back is also a key member of the title-chasing Mohun Bagan side with two goals to his name.
Both Abhishek and Jayesh were part of the India Under-23 side that competed in Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers in Bangladesh in March. Right back Abhishek won the Emerging Player of the Match on his ISL debut against FC Goa while Jayesh also impressed whenever he got a chance and has been one of the best young players of the 2014-15 I-League.