Chennaiyin FC on Wednesday announced that Brazilian defender Eli Sabia has signed a contract extension that will see the 31-year-old feature in the 2020-21 campaign for the two-time Indian Super League champions.
Experienced center-back Eli started in 19 of Chennaiyin’s 21 games last season as they put together a stunning run to the final. An eight-game unbeaten run to qualify for the semis required CFC to be resolute at the back, and Eli played an instrumental role in ensuring that with his calming and reliable presence. He also contributed at the other end with a goal and assist, the former an important strike in the 4-1 semi-final first leg win over FC Goa.
“I am delighted beyond words to continue my time at Chennaiyin FC. The love that my family and I have received from the club, fans, and the city of Chennai is unmatched. We have unfinished business from last season after we fell just short in the final. We go again in the new season with renewed hope and determination to bring a third ISL title to Chennai,” Sabia said from his Santa Catarina residence in Brazil.
“Eli (Sabia) is the embodiment of hard work, determination and consistency at Chennaiyin. Along with being technically sound, Eli is a leader both on and off the pitch and the younger Indian players stand to gain a lot from him for their development. We are glad he has extended his stay with us and we look forward to him continuing to excel in Chennaiyin blue,” said CFC co-owner Vita Dani.
With 59 CFC appearances in all competitions to his name already, Sabia is preparing for a fourth season with the Marina Arena club by focusing heavily on his fitness, currently back home in Brazil.
His first stint in Indian football was in the 2016 ISL season with Chennaiyin. Soon after, he returned to Brazil for a short spell at Sertaozinho FC before switching to Al Raed in Saudi Arabia. He then re-joined CFC ahead of the 2018-19 season and has been a mainstay in defence over the last two campaigns.