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 November 18, 2002 | 1320 IST

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New Brazilian striker bolsters East Bengal

M. Chhaya in Kolkata

A Brazilian striker, who once played alongside Ronaldinho and Lucio for Gramio, will sign for East Bengal on Wednesday.

29-year-old striker Gilmar Silva de Gonzalves arrived here Saturday and has begun practising with the red-and-gold brigade. He is expected to start playing for East Bengal from Sunday, the club's second engagement in the National Football League.

Gilmar's presence could strengthen East Bengal's upfront. He will be the fourth foreigner in the side, which already has Nigerian Mike Okoro, Brazilian defender Douglas D'Silva and Ghanaian Suley Musah. Each club can hire the services of a maximum four foreign players.

Gilmar played in second division Italian club Reziana this season, and reportedly scored 10 goals in 14 matches.

"I joined Reziana this season and had no intention of leaving it. But the club is going through a financial crisis and could not pay the players on time. So, I had gone back to Sao Paolo," Gilmar told reporters here on Monday.

As East Bengal was looking for a foreign striker, Gilmar's name was suggested to the club authorities by fellow Brazilian Douglas.

Gilmar, a 5'10" natural left-footer, has been issued his release papers by the Italian football federation authorities.

Talking of his association with Brazilian world-cuppers like Ronaldinho and Lucio, Gilmar said: "I played with them for Gramio club between 1997-99. Lucio is a very good friend of mine. I have learnt a lot from my exposure in Gramio club."

The Brazilian striker said: "I would be glad if I can help East Bengal win the National Football League. I have heard about the famed rivalry among the three clubs of East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting."

Complete Coverage: 7th National Football League 2002-03