Aiming to finish in the top three the I-league this year, Shillong Lajong FC today retained forward Fabio Pena Henrique and signed Romanian defender Dan Gelu Ignat, Japanese midfielder Yuta Kinowaki and Cameroonian striker Aser Pierrick Dipanda.
Fabio Pena Henrique’s four goals in the last I-League season has earned him his second term with the club and coach Thangboi Singto said the Brazilian has a lot of “potential” in helping the club win games.
Lajong will be Ignat’s first Indian club and Kinowaki is no stranger to the North East, having played for Aizawl FC last season. The striker from Cameroon, Dipanda also made his I-League debut last season with DSK Shivajians.
The versatile Japanese midfielder is adept in defence and, along with Ignat, should provide solid protection in the backline, said Thangboi Singto.
Kinowaki spent his youth years at Kyoto Sanga FC in Japan before moving to Poland and Latvia, where he was a member of the Energetyk Gryfino and BFC Daugavpils teams, respectively.
After one season at Daugavpils and a short stint at Kyoto Shiko SC back in his home country, Kinowaki signed for Aizawl FC, for whom he scored two goals in the 2015-16 I-League.
Most of Ignat’s career has been in his native Romania, though he most recently played for Al-Ramtha and That Ras in the Jordan Premier League.
The right-footed central defender started his youth football with SCF Gica Popescu in Romania and has played for various clubs in that country between 2004 and 2014 in Liga 1 and Liga 2 of the Romanian Football League.
On the other hand, Dipanda spent the majority of his career from 2008 to 2014 playing in Spain with Valencia B, La Roda, Olímpic de Xàtiva and Alzira.
He then moved to India and joined DSK Shivajians in the I-League 2015-16 season where he scored seven goals for the club from Pune last year.
“We needed experience and leadership in defence and that is exactly what we expect Dan to bring to the team. We believe he will be a big addition to the team,” Singto said.
On Yuta, he said “Yuta was one of the best mid-fielders in I-League last season and based on his performance, he is brought in to lead the young and talented midfield players we have and I believe our midfield position becomes much stronger having him on our side.”
The club’s best signing though will be Cameroonian striker Dipanda.
“Dipanda scored seven I-League goals last season and comes in to get us more goals and more sting to our attack line. We hope he will better his performance this season,” Singto said.