Chennaiyin FC confirm participation of Anirudh Thapa, nine other Indian players for 2020-21 Indian Super League season

Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC on Thursday confirmed the participation of star midfielder Anirudh Thapa and nine other Indian players for the upcoming season.

ISL 2017-18 winner Thapa, who joined the club as an 18-year-old in 2016, is currently on a multi-year contract and is set for a fifth campaign and beyond in the Chennaiyin blue.

Winner of the 2018 AIFF Men`s Emerging Player of the Year award, Thapa is joined by compatriots Thoi Singh, Dhanpal Ganesh, Sinivasan Pandiyan, Edwin Sydney Vanspaul, Vishal Kaith, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Deepak Tangri and Rahim Ali for the 2020-21 campaign as they all have existing contracts.

Versatile midfielder Abhijit Sarkar is also set to return to the Chennaiyin ranks after a successful loan spell at East Bengal in the I-League last season.

“All of us at CFC are hungrier than ever to win silverware again. But for that, we need to work incredibly hard and be prepared for the new season. We need to retain the mentality that took us to the final last season. I can`t wait to get back on the ball and begin training with my teammates,” Thapa said in a statement.

After graduating from the AIFF Elite Academy in 2016, Thapa benefitted immensely from a training stint at French club FC Metz that was facilitated by Chennaiyin FC. On returning from France, Thapa joined CFC`s senior team with Head Coach Marco Materazzi at the helm. The Italy legend was impressed by what he saw of the boy from Dehradun, and Thapa went on to make his CFC debut against FC Goa in the final game of the ISL 2016 season.

The following campaign under Englishman John Gregory`s stewardship was the young creative midfielder`s breakthrough season as he registered two goals and one assist in 16 appearances as Chennaiyin went on to lift the ISL title for a second time.

“We are delighted to have the core of our squad continuing with us. Our commitment is to build on the previous campaign in the strongest fashion. And the presence of our key Indian players including the likes of Thapa will go a long way in achieving that,” Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani said in a statement.

“It has been particularly pleasing to see Thapa`s rise in stature for both club and country, that too at such a young age. He has gone from strength to strength since joining us four years back as a teenager and has now firmly established himself as an integral part of the first-team setup,” she added.

With 68 appearances for CFC in all competitions already, Thapa is looking forward to the new season. ISL has officially confirmed that the 2020-21 league season will be held in Goa with Chennaiyin`s home games to be played at the GMC Athletic Stadium, Bambolim

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Sagar Biswas

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