Xavier all set to join Churchill

Xavier, who played an inspirational role for the Aircraftmen in their successful battle for survival in the top division of the I-League, has decided to all but end his thirteen-year association with the Bangalore club and sign for Goan giants Churchill Brothers.

“I just think it is a nice time to move on. The job here with HAL was the only thing that was holding me back, but I have decided to try out a new adventure with Churchill,” Xavier told Deccan Herald on Tuesday. “I have been given a really good opportunity to show my talent and I’m really looking forward to do well, not just for Churchill but in the India camp as well,” Xavier, who was named in the 42 probables for the World Cup Qualifiers, added.

It is learnt the 32-year old has been given a two-year contract worth around Rs 90 lakh and will become Goan club’s second major signing after Dempo playmaker Roberto Mendes De Silva.

Murali, who was also offered a contract with Churchill, has signed one-year deal with Mohun Bagan. The Kolkata giants, who struggled in last season’s I-League, have gone on a major strenghening-drive by roping in the prolific Nigerian Odafe Onyeka Okolie (Churchill) and Indian midfielders NP Pradeep (Viva Kerala) and Syed Rahim Nabi (East Bengal).

“It’s always been a dream for me to play in Kolkata, so I’m glad that I have been given the opportunity,” the 29-year old said.

“What made me sign for Bagan was their genuine interest in me, even before we (HASC) survived. It was obvious from their attitude that they really wanted me at their club. That was very flattering for me. It’s going to be great playing in front of such big crowds and with such a big team,” he remarked.

The two Nigerian exports Joseph Femi and A Hamza, who had a disappointing season last year, are expected to stay with HASC but local lads Jai Kumar and R Srikanth have reportedly signed for Churchill and Pune FC respectively.

Young Ankit Sharma, who joined HASC in the January transfer window, has a few options with Bagan, Pune FC, Mumbai FC and Indian Arrows showing interest in the midfielder. “I have a few options available, but something concrete will emerge in a week or so. My first priority will be Indian Arrows, but I don’t rule out staying with HASC either,” he said from Delhi.

It was the experience in most parts that carried HASC to eventual safety but with the exits of two of their most experienced players and several more expected to follow suit, the Aircraftmen have a tough task ahead of them in the forthcoming season.

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