Kolkata: Two-time Indian Super League ( ISL) champions ATK have completed the signing of South Africa U-20 international Sibongakonke Mbatha for the remainder of the season, sources confirmed today.
Sibongakonke who has already played for the South African national team in the FIFA U-17 and U-20 World Cups last played for the Platinum Stars, for whom he made seven appearances after arriving at the club on a season-long deal from Bidvest Wits.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to go and showcase his ability for the next few months, and he will be rubbing shoulders with likes of [former Irish international] Robbie Keane,” said Keegan Wasserfall, operations director at Siyavuma Sports Group, who manages Mbatha, as quoted by Kickoff.com.
“Atletico de Kolkota were resilient in their pursuit of Mbatha and their keen interest in bringing him on board made it difficult to tune the opportunity down,” he added.
The diminutive midfielder has however been signed on a short-term loan deal and will feature in the remaining ISL matches as well as the Super Cup tournament.
It seems to be a good signing for the defending champions, whose team has been plagued by injuries all season. Around 40-43 is the number, interim head-coach Ashley Westwood has confirmed and this new signing will bring fresh energy into the team.
ATK are however for the first time in four years out of the knock-out stages and will play to finish in the top six, that can give them a direct entry into the Super Cup finals, to be held from March 21.
Finishing anywhere below the top six, will mean they will have to go through the qualifiers that begins from March 12.