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ISL 2021-22: Mumbai City's Rahul Bheke set to make 100th ISL appearance

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Fatorda (Goa), Dec 26 (IANS) Defender Rahul Bheke will become the eighth player to make 100 or more appearances in the Indian Super League when Mumbai City FC take on NorthEast United on Monday.

Bheke, who joined Mumbai City FC at the start of the 2021-22 season, is currently on 99 matches and will be joining Mumbai City FC teammate Mandar Rao Dessai, Narayan Das of Chennaiyin, Lenny Rodrigues of ATK Mohun Bagan, Harmanjot Khabra of Kerala Blasters, Pritam Kotal of ATK Mohun Bagan, Sunil Chhetri of Bengaluru FC and Amrinder Singh of ATK Mohun Bagan as the players to have played 100 or more ISL matches since the first season of the league in 2014.

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Dessai is the player with the most appearances in ISL having played 118 matches while representing FC Goa and Mumbai City FC. Narayan Das follows close behind at 113 caps achieved while playing for FC Goa, Pune City FC, Odisha, East Bengal, and Chennaiyin FC. Rodrigues has made 111 appearances for Pune City, Bengaluru, FC Goa, and ATK Mohun Bagan while Khabra gained 105 caps playing for Chennaiyin, Bengaluru, and Kerala Blasters. Kotal collected 103 caps while playing for Pune City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan. Sunil Chhetri and Amrinder Singh are tied on 101 appearances — Chhetri for Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC while Amrinder has played for ATK and Mumbai City and is now with ATK Mohun Bagan.

Bheke, who made his ISL debut in 2015 has represented Kerala Blasters, Pune City, and Bengaluru FC and is now with Mumbai City FC.

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Born in Mumbai, the 31-year-old has won the ISL title with Bengaluru FC in 2018-19 and said it was a huge achievement for him. He had played his 99th match against his old team Kerala Blasters and Mumbai City FC lost that game 0-3. The team has done well so far, winning five and losing two of their second games so far.

“So far it has been an incredible journey for me. I started with Kerala Blasters now I am playing for my home team. I can say that this is a huge milestone in my career. But it is important that tomorrow the team does well in a crucial game. Personally, it’s a huge milestone and an important game for the team and we have to bounce back to winning ways,” Bheke said.

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Asked what advice he would give to upcoming players who would be dreaming of playing 100 matches sometime in their career, Bheke said that he would only tell them to work hard and keep patience.

“My only guidance to them will be to tell them to keep working hard and keep patience. Always be ready to help the team whenever they are needed. So, that’s the things I would like to tell the youngsters,” he added.

Of the 99 matches he has played so far, Bheke has played 70 for Bengaluru FC. He has scored 14 goals so far, 13 of them in ISL.

–IANS

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