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Vitória de Guimarães sign Indian duo Israil Gurung & Manish Maithani

Manish Maithani & Israil Gurung
Manish Maithani & Israil Gurung

Picture courtesy: FC Pune City

Portuguese outfit Vitória Sport Clube de Guimarães, popularly known as Vitória de Guimarães, have signed Indian midfield duo Israil Gurung and Manish Maithani from Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Pune City.

The duo will be loaned from FC Pune City to the Portuguese club for the remainder of the season as part of an agreement between the two clubs. Israil Gurung (25) and Manish Maithani (27) will initially join the Vitória de Guimarães B Team until June 30, 2015.

Maithani is a central midfielder, who represented India in 2012. Gurung played an important role for FC Pune City putting in consistent performance on the wing. Both the players are expected to join the Portuguese team within a week.

Vitória de Guimarães is currently fourth in the Primeira Liga, the Portuguese top flight, and is also in contention for European spots for the next season.

Gaurav Modwel, CEO, FC Pune City said, “Until now, the gates for Indian footballers to ply their trade in foreign leagues had not opened. This scenario has changed considerably with the ISL revolution. For starters, the league is being telecast across the world, providing a window to managers and technical staff of global clubs and football scouts to witness firsthand Indian players’ talent. FC Pune City currently has a partnership with Italian club Fiorentina and is now reaching out to other clubs in foreign leagues for exchange of players. This, I believe will further open up newer avenues for Indian footballers.”

“Generally, there is reticence amongst first team managers in the top European football leagues to take a young player on loan from India. The management of Vitória de Guimarães, with their foresight, has been able to see the potential of young Indian players and their long term contribution to Indian football. I am hopeful to build a strong association with them and regularly exchange players with them,” added Modwel.

Julio Mendes, President, Vitória de Guimarães said, “India is trying to spread out its football and it seems natural to me that the agreement settled between the two clubs renders possible an excellent opportunity to FC Pune City as well as to Vitória SC. This is a fundamental step in the expansion of the Indian club, which also comes out set in the strategic partnership that Vitória has developed close by foreign crests. Besides the exchange of experiences between the involved clubs, this agreement, which highly honours us, also sets up an important contribution to FC Pune City’s growth.”

Hrithik Roshan, Bollywood superstar and co-owner of FC Pune City felt that it is a moment of great pride for his club and Indian football that two of its players are selected by a foreign club. He wished them the best for their stay in Portugal.

Roshan is aware of the vast difference between the two leagues and said that, “You can’t ask for much more than that, but now the boys have to do what they’ve got to do and earn the right to get picked every week, train hard and perform well and then earn the respect of the fellow team members and managers. On behalf of the club and fans, I wish the boys all the best for their stint.”

An ecstatic Manish Maithani said, “It is very rare that an Indian player gets a chance like this and I am grateful to the management of FC Pune City for making this happen. I was getting a lot of offers from other I-League clubs and I chose not to take them and hoped that this deal will go through. Now that it has happened I want to focus on giving my best to the team and contribute to Vitoria whenever I am called upon.”

Israil Gurung too spoke about his excitement and stated, “It will be quite different from what we are used to in India. But, I am sure that with a lot of hard work in training, we will be able to give a good account of ourselves during our time in Portugal. It will be a different culture but I hope to learn a lot from this experience and become a better player.”

The Vitória de Guimarães B Team which plays in the Portuguese Segunda Liga, the second tier of Portuguese football.  At Guimarães the first and second team train under a common platform and if they can impress, then Manish and Israil could also be training with the first team at a later stage of the season.