There were certain individuals who rose above the rest to deliver match-winning performances.
The I-League maintained an eventful aura, as the teams start getting settled into the new season, with quite a few dramatic games propping up the competitive nature of the league. The Kolkata sides properly got their respective campaigns underway, with East Bengal flexing their Spanish muscles to go top of the league after two compelling wins against Northeast opposition.
Mohun Bagan also extinguished their goalscoring woes, with a dominant win to give Kibu Vicuna some job security. Punjab FC’s emphatic win over Chennai City FC proved the southern giants might be missing their attacking stars.
In this week of exhilarating football, certain individuals rose above the rest to deliver match-winning performances for their sides. Some directly affected the results, while others proved their utmost importance for their respective teams. So, here we’ll look at Khel Now’s I-League Team Of The Week 2.
Goalkeeper: Sankar Roy (Mohun Bagan)
After Debjit Majumder’s horror show against Churchill Brothers, Vicuna decided to give young Sankar Roy a rub of the green against TRAU FC. It turned out to be a wise decision, as Roy put in a solid performance to maintain composure in his defensive third.
He made a few good diving saves to frustrate the visitors and make sure the Mariners had total control of the game. Roy also sealed another clean-sheet for Bagan, their second this season.
Right-Back: Joe Zoherliana (Aizawl FC)
Aizawl FC finally got their season underway with a win, but it didn’t come before some late drama against the resurgent Indian Arrows. The former I-League champions were made to work hard, but Joe Zoherliana rose highest to score a dramatic winner for his side.
The right-back put in a tenacious performance, in which he helped nullify Arrows’ penetration through his side with some solid defending. The youngster showed a lot of character with the late winner, making sure his team gained some momentum before tough games ahead.
Centre-Back: Danilo Augusto (Punjab FC)
Punjab FC were made to work extremely hard to get the big win against Chennai City, but their strong defensive work made things easier. Brazilian defender Danilo Augusto put in a rock-solid shift in the heart of the defence, organizing things expertly and keeping a close check on Chennai’s unpredictable attackers.
He made some important clearances and strong challenges to divert danger, also doing well to keep Pedro Manzi at bay for the most part. He helped his side keep the defending champions frustrated.
I-League 2019-20: Team of the Week 2
Centre-Back: Marti Crespi (East Bengal)
Inspite of the dominant Borja Gomez still not being fit enough for regular action, East Bengal seem to have another commander in their backline, with new signing Marti Crespi impressing in recent games.
The Spaniard held a firm, compact defensive line alongside both Mehtab Singh and Asheer Akhtar against NEROCA FC and TRAU respectively, making some important challenges in both games. On top of that, the former Delhi Dynamos man also scored an instinctive last-gasp goal against TRAU to win his side the game and go top of the I-League table.
Left-Back: Munmun Lagun (Punjab FC)
The former Pune FC defender replaced the experienced Yumnam Raju for Punjab FC against defending champions Chennai City and held his own against the onslaught. Lagun was rock solid on the left, making some crunching challenges to frustrate the South-Indian giants.
He kept Chennai’s right-sided players pretty isolated with his composed defending, while his work romping ahead was also quite compelling. Lagun helped Punjab absorb the relentless pressure and embodied their warrior spirit with a sturdy showing to hand the former champions an important early-season win.
Right Winger: Isak Vanlalruatfela (Aizawl FC)
Isak Vanlalruatfela ushered the charge for Aizawl against the young Arrows side, making things very difficult with his bombing runs down the right flank. The winger maintained his fiery nature down his side, dribbling forward with confidence and testing Samik Mitra’s resolve quite a few times.
He was rewarded for his persistence, when his clever cross took a deflection to allow William Lalnunfela score the opener.
Central Midfield: Fran Gonzalez Munoz (Mohun Bagan)
Mohun Bagan needed some spirit in their performance-levels to bounce back from the drubbing against Churchill Brothers and new signing Fran Gonzalez led the charge. Munoz was brilliant with his work in a deep-lying playmaker role, moving the ball quickly to his attackers.
He scored a brilliant brace, capitalizing on TRAU’s weakness from set-pieces to calmly power the ball into the net twice and give the Mariners a resounding win. Munoz also played a glorious long-ball to Ashutosh Mehta, leading to VP Suhair’s goal. He also had to do his defensive duties properly in a complete performance.
Central Midfield: Thoiba Singh (Punjab FC)
Thoiba Singh has slotted himself as a quintessential cog of Punjab FC. He has proved why he’s held in such high regard with another tireless performance against the defending champions. Thoiba was a real energetic figure in the middle, doing his best to press the visitors and put in some important challenges to avert danger.
His driving nature also pegged the hosts forward, as he scored the crucial second goal with a clever finish, to take Minerva a step closer to the win. Singh’s energetic demeanour troubled Chennai City and inspired his teammates to see out a famous win at home in the I-League.
Left Winger: Juan Mera Gonzalez (East Bengal)
Juan Mera continued his amazing start to the season with East Bengal, powering the Red and Gold to their first wins of the campaign. He struck an incredible free-kick against NEROCA to give his team some comfort after having won their first penalty with some silky skills.
Gonzalez’s crossing ability is unmatched in the side. His looping crosses caused problems for both the Northeast sides. It was his impressive corner which led to Crespi’s goal against TRAU, proving how crucial he is to creating chances regularly for Alejandro Menendez’s side.
Striker: Vikram Pratap Singh (Indian Arrows)
Vikram Pratap Singh was surprisingly among the more experienced figures leading the Arrows’ charge against Aizawl, as he made his ability felt once again. The former Minerva Punjab academy product put in a blazing performance, tormenting their defenders with his cunning movement and creating chances with his incisive passing.
He proved his goalscoring knack by slipping past a few intimidating bodies, before confidently slotting home the equalizer.
Striker: Marcos de la Espada (East Bengal)
Despite having a shaky start to his East Bengal career, Marcos de la Espada now seems another brilliant signing from Menendez. The physical target man fuelled their attacks against NEROCA and TRAU, putting his intimidating presence to good use. He earned a clever penalty when his header hit Siam Hangal’s arm, while he used his head to power in his own strike later on.
Espada continued his fine form with a compelling finish to open the scoring against TRAU. He is linking brilliantly with his compatriots and has added another dimension to East Bengal’s attacks, as his goals in back-to-back games took him atop the I-League top scorers’ ladder.
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