Vulnerability in the defensive third has been one of the most important issues in East Bengal FC’s failure over the last few years. To fix the problem, East Bengal management has managed to sign experienced players in different positions. The signing of versatile fullback Mandar Rao Desai is one of them.
Player Profile: Mandar Rao Desai:
Mandar Rao Desai started his youth career at Dempo SC. Later, in 2014, Mander joined FC Goa on a loan deal from Dempo SC. With FC Goa, Mandar had a big role in Brazilian head coach Zico’s team in 2015. Later in 2016, Mandar Rao Desai joined the Gaurs on a permanent deal.
In between the 2016–17 season, Mandar went to that time I-League side Bengaluru FC and played a few games with the Blues. During his short stint with Bengaluru FC, Mandar also won the Federation Cup in the 2016–17 season.
Mandar went to Spain for a short training stint with LaLiga side Villarreal CF. He played 100 games for FC Goa and was one of their captains during his stint with the Gaurs. After coach Sergio Lobera’s arrival in 2017-18, Mandar played more as a fullback.
Mandar Rao Desai has played a significant role in 2019-20 season that helped the Gaurs to clinch the Hero ISL League Shield. After his six-year stint with the Gaurs, Mandar joined Mumbai City FC in 2020. With the Islanders, he won the Hero ISL League Shield twice in 2020–21 and 2022–23 and also became the Hero ISL champion in the 2020–21 season.
Performance Analysis: Mandar Rao Desai:
Mandar has become the first player to play 100 Hero ISL games in the history of this tournament. Mandar has 97 Hero ISL appearances with FC Goa and 41 Hero ISL appearances with Mumbai City FC. During his entire career, the former captain of the Islanders has played more than 190 games, in which he scored nine goals.
Mandar has also played for the Indian National Team. He made his India U23 debut at the 2014 Asian Games against the UAE U23. He also played a total of nine games for the senior national team and won the SAFF Championship in 2021.
Mandar has quick speed, a good first touch, and a decent passing range. He is effective in one-on-one defending, can dribble past his opponent, and can provide swinging crosses to his strikers moving through the flanks. Besides, Mandar’s huge experience helps him to be a good captain.
Ahead of the upcoming 2023–24 season, experienced full-back Mandar Rao Desai joins the century-old East Bengal club. Mandar’s vast experience and versatility will definitely help East Bengal regain its past glory.
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