Mohun Bagan defender Anas says, I-League is tougher than ISL

Anas EdathodikaKolkata: I-League is more demanding as a football competition than the Indian Super League (ISL), Mohun Bagan's new recruit defender Anas Edathodika said here on Wednesday.

"The I-League is tougher than the ISL," Edathodika told reporters at the club ground after joining training ahead of their league opener against Churchill Brothers at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium here on Sunday.

"There are so many foreigners who play in the ISL and they are top class players. The I-League has more Indians and there is more competition. Last year I did not play in the I-League. This year I am keen to make a mark," Edathodika, who has been loaned from ISL franchise Delhi Dynamos, added.

On his reason to play for Mohun Bagan, the former Mumbai FC and Pune FC player said, "It's a big challenge as this is a big club. I am happy to get an opportunity here. I have to work really hard."

Edathodika acknowledged that it won't be easy to break into the first team.

"Players like Kingshuk (Debnath), Raju (Gaikwad) bhai are there. So it won't be easy to break into the first XI. In my football career, in 2009 and 2010 people used to tell me, once you have to play in Kolkata. I have played for four years in Mumbai and four years in Pune."

"Jo Paul Ancheri (former India captain and Mohun Bagan academy coach) told me it's a big club and advised me to play here. Last year he was asking me whether I am coming or not," revealed the sturdy stopper-back who impressed in the third edition of the ISL.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year Jeje Lalpekhlua, who also joined training on Wednesday, said he wants to replicate Bengaluru FC's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup success for his club this season.

"When Bengaluru FC played in the AFC Cup final, it was a good advertisement for Indian football. So, hopefully our target this season should be to do well in the AFC Cup as well," Jeje, who has been prolific for Mohun Bagan last season, said.

Bengaluru became the first Indian club to reach the AFC Cup final last year, losing to Air Force Club of Iraq in the summit clash.