Former I-League stars struggle to find clubs this season

Written by: Sujata Sarkar
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Bengaluru, Mar 6: Even a couple of years back, two of the brightest names in I-League were Odafa Okolie and Ranti Martins.

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Both the Nigerian strikers have over 200 goals in the NFL/I-League. While Ranti has an incredible record of scoring 214 goals in 252 matches in his 12-year long career in India (2004 to 2016), Odafa also holds a dazzling record of scoring 240 goals in only 132 matches in his 10-year long career.

File photo: Ranti Martins

Unfortunately, the harsh reality at the moment is that the superstars are struggling to find a club in this season.

Even, being without a club Odafa lives in India. He is in Goa, keeping himself busy by doing fitness training.

Odafa could not hide his frustration while speaking on Sunday from Goa. The talismanic former Mohun Bagan and Churchill Brothers striker said: “This is football. Sometimes it becomes so cruel that it becomes difficult for any footballer to face.

"Still I have been keeping myself fit through rigorous training on the sea beaches of Goa every morning with the hope if any club official contacts me during the break of ongoing I-League.”

Odafa, who joined Sporting Clube de Goa on loan from Churchill Brothers last year, did not continue playing with the club.

That time Churchill Brothers was in exile after being involved in a litigation case against the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

But even after being allowed to return to I League this season, Odafa could not join the Goan outfit due to financial problem and it has been learnt that Churchill Brothers has terminated contract with the Nigerian striker.

Ranti Martins, whose last club in Indian football were Kolkata giants East Bengal last season, is also in search of a club in USA now.

Speaking over the phone from New York recently, Ranti said: “I was confident of joining I-League club this season even after East Bengal released me.

"But my injury has not cured fully. That has been the key reason the clubs are not taking any risk by recruiting me.”

Ranti informed he is trying to join a small club in USA and then he wants to switch over to any premier club either in Malaysia or Thailand next year.

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