The promising shot stopper was part of the Kolkatan outfit's squad during the years 2005-2011. However, he was later loaned out to Pune FC mid-way through 2011-12 season, where he had a brilliant stint of one and an half years. He emerged as the number one choice between the bars for the formidable Pune outfit, despite suffering a serious injury during the last season.
“Yes, we have signed Abhra on a one-year deal”, Santosh Bhattacharjee, the football secretary of the Red and Golds informed Goal.
Abhra had a roller coaster ride in his East Bengal years, where he was the second choice for years behind the big names like Rajat Ghosh Dastidar and Subrata Pal. He however, proved his mettle under the tutelage of Philippe De Ridder, when he became the heartthrob of the Red and Gold faithful, because of his consistency. His best performance came against an inspired Shillong Lajong side in the 2009 Federation Cup final, where he grabbed the bragging rights for his team by stopping a couple of spot kicks in the tiebreaker. His career hit its low when he conceded 5 goals in the Kolkata Derby against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan on 25th October, 2009.
Goalkeeping had been the achilles heel for East Bengal last season as their custodians let in a number of soft goals, resulting in the team’s poor third place finish after a dream start in the I-League. Abhijit Mondal suffered an injury midway into the season and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a number of bad outings, involving himself in both on-field and off-field fiascos. With the prestigious AFC Cup quarter-finals only months away, the club has moved quickly to solve their problems in-between the sticks.
Another strong rumour going around the indian football circuit is that Arata Izumi, another star performer for Pune FC and an Indian International, is all set to don the East Bengal jersey next season. However, both Bhattacharjee and Debarata Sarkar (Nitu), an Executive committee member of the club refuted any such claim.
“We have not done any deal for Arata. They are only rumours”, Bhattacharjee revealed to Goal.
Arata has another year to go on his contract with Pune FC, and sources close to the Red Lizards laughed off the rumours regarding Arata and are confident the player shall continue with the club next season.
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