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Berlanga completes I-League switch

Navy blues coach Ramon Tribulietx paid tribute to Berlanga after three season’s sterling service to Auckland City.
“I think Angel has been an outstanding player for us but having played in two FIFA Club World Cups in a row you would expect some clubs to show interest in him,” he said.
“It’s come as no surprise for me – Angel had had some contacts from professional clubs recently and I could sense his departure was coming, unfortunately for us.”
Berlanga racked up 32 ASB Premiership appearances, scoring three goals in his time at Kiwitea Street and was outstanding in matches with Kashiwa Reysol and Sanfrecce Hiroshima of the J-League.
But as the ASB Premiership door closed for Berlanga, another opened for navy blues players competing for starting slots.
“With the players we have I hope we can readjust and stay strong defensively. Obviously other players will have a chance of more game time,” he said.
Berlanga signed with Sporting Clube de Goa after contact with the club’s Spanish coach and former Celta Vigo player Oscar Bruzon.
He repaid Bruzon’s faith as he marked his debut with a goal, a 67th-minute deflection that proved enough to seal a 2-0 victory over Salgaocar in an I-League clash at the Duler Stadium, Mapusa, on Monday. The result lifts Goa one place above the relegation zone.
The 25-year-old Berlanga won two OFC Champions League titles and the ASB Charity Cup once, as well as being voted Auckland City player of the year in both the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons.
Berlanga becomes the second Auckland City player to leave the club since the FIFA Club World Cup campaign ended in December, after striker Luis Corrales re-signed with Team Wellington in the January transfer window.
He is also the second player from the ASB Premiership to star in the I-League, the other being former Waitakere United striker Kayne Vincent who plays for Prayag United.
Bas van den Brink also joined I-League outfit Churchill Brothers from A-League side Perth Glory as the popularity of football in India continues to boom, while Costa Rica international and former Melbourne Victory midfielder Carlos Hernandez also lines up with Vincent at Prayag.
The fully-professional I-League is six years old and has eight rounds left to play, with the winner of the competition representing India in next season’s AFC Champions League.

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