Chennaiyin FC’s Brazilian defender Eli Sabia on Saturday penned a contract extension with the club, that will see the 30-year-old turn out for head coach John Gregory’s side for the 2019-20 season.
“I am very happy to continue with the club I love so much. In this new season, along with my teammates, we will work hard to achieve what our fans deserve. We are a champion club and we will be back at the top. I would like to thank Chennaiyin FC for giving me this opportunity to do my best again. I am also grateful to all the fans who are always by mine and the club’s side. Together we are stronger, together we are all a family at Chennaiyin FC,” said an elated Eli in a message to the club from his home in Santa Catarina in Brazil.
Head coach John Gregory hailed the development, saying: “Eli was a standout player for us in what was otherwise a difficult season. His commitment and prowess in defence has been exemplary, and he has always been a thorough professional. He has a very calm demeanour and is extremely comfortable on the ball. He also poses a serious threat going forward. We are really happy to see him continue for another season with the club.”
Eli’s first-ever stint in Indian football was in the 2016 Indian Super League (ISL) season with Chennaiyin. He then returned to Brazil for a short spell at Sertaozinho FC before switching to Al Raed in Saudi Arabia. He then rejoined CFC ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Eli has made a total of 40 appearances across all competitions for the club so far, over the 2016 and 2018-19 seasons. He was a mainstay in the ISL, starting all 18 CFC games last season.
The central defender was instrumental in the club keeping a total of seven clean sheets in 12 games across the AFC Cup and Super Cup from March to June earlier this year, missing only one of those games through suspension.
He also has two CFC goals to his name, the latest of which was a fantastic solo effort against Nepal’s Manang Marshyangdi Club in a 3-2 win in the final AFC Cup matchday. Eli carried the ball from defence, playing a one-two in front of the opposition area before rounding the keeper and slotting it home.
Hailing from Sao Paulo, CFC’s number 13 began his career at local club Paulista, progressing through the youth ranks before appearing for the senior team. He had several high-profile loan spells during his time at Paulista, with one of them at Swiss top division outfit FC Lausanne in 2007-08 besides stints at Brazilian giants Santos and Atletico Paranaense.