In a rare show of support towards the I-League, East Bengal's seasoned midfielder Ishfaq Ahmed expressed his desire to continue with the Red and Gold despite receiving an offer from IMG-Reliance to play in their proposed IPL style tournament in 2014.
"Yes, talks are going on with the East Bengal officials. Though nothing has been finalised yet," informed the midfielder to Goal.
Ishfaq was a favourite of the former East Bengal gaffer Trevor James Morgan and was brought in the sqaud only last summer. Though the former Indian international usually operated down the left wing during his stints with Mohun Bagan and Salgaocar, under Morgan's tutelage he plied his trade as a central defensive midfielder. who would also contribute down the flanks. The veteran got into his new role quickly and had a major part in parrying opponent attacks in the middle of the pitch, along with his partner Mehtab Hussain.
Though, in the business end of the campaign, Ishfaq was often dropped in favour of Lalrindika Ralte or Sanju Pradhan, but he impressed the Red and Gold faithful with his full-hearted efforts, that were largely effective, though not aesthetically impressive at times.
At the end of the season, Ishfaq got offers from the newly-promoted Mohammedan Sporting and IMG-Reliance, who were trying to organize the IPL-style football tournament. It was also heard that Ishfaq was considering the IPL-offer seriously.
However, the clubs have unanimously decided that the players involved in the 2014 tournament will not be given the chance to don the club colours. This has forced Ishfaq to change his stance.
"I want to play in the I-League. If the IPL organizing body can't arrange for its players to play in the I-League, I will not sign for them," Ishfaq made it clear.
East Bengal have signed a number of new players this year , but will certainly look forward to retaining the core of last year's team. of which Ishfaq Ahmed is an indispensable member.