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AIFF must make I-League as exciting as ISL: Mendy

Former Paris St Germain player Bernard Mendy, who inspired Chennaiyin FC to the title in the second edition of the franchise-based Indian Super League is all set to make his I-League debut for East Bengal against Aizawl FC today. Mendy is confident of turning things around for the Kolkata giants, who are currently placed fourth in the I-League table with eight points from five matches, while champions Bengaluru FC lead with 12 points.

East Bengal's Bernard Mendy
East Bengal's Bernard Mendy

"East Bengal are a good team and I know that they want to win trophies. If we work hard it is a possibility. I’m open to playing in any position. I’m looking forward to the new start," former Bolton Wanderers’ player Mendy told mid-day yesterday.

The French defender, who signed on the dotted line with East Bengal on January 12, said he had offers from several European clubs, but chose India because of his fondness for the country

"Having played in the ISL for two years, I’ve begun to like India. The people here love and respect you. I had opportunities to play in Europe, but I opted to stay here since I have better opportunities to play. Also, I spoke to a lot of Indian players like Thoi Singh (Bengaluru FC), Harmanjot Khabra, Abhishek Das (Chennaiyin FC teammates) and Jeje Lalpekhlua (Mohun Bagan) before deciding to join the I-League. I had not even watched a video of an I-League match before joining East Bengal," said the 34-year old, who scored twice for Chennaiyin in the last edition of the ISL. The former Hull City player however, felt that the I-League must provide better facilities to players.

"Many foreign players come here but India must offer better infrastructure and playing conditions. The AIFF (All-India Football Federation) should look into making I-League more exciting, like ISL. Also, players must get the best facilities like they do in ISL. This will raise the standard of the I-League," added Mendy.

Finally, Mendy can’t wait to experience the passion of the Kolkata fans. "Most players say that East Bengal fans are very emotional, especially during the derby (vs Mohun Bagan). I am looking forward to experiencing that," Mendy signed off.

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