The cash-rich league feature seven players in the this week’s XI but they are complemented by some new arrivals from the I-League.
The League season of Indian Football has almost come to an end with the Indian Super League’s 18 round of matches were completed and four teams progressing to the semi-finals of the tournament. The I-League, on the other hand, has become a very interesting one because of it’s thrilling title race which has four teams vying for the championship and being separated by only a few mere points.
While the I-League title race took another stunning turn last week, the final week of the ISL league stages also proved to be really entertaining with some high-scoring matches taking place with the teams looking to finish off their league seasons on a high. Some of the Indian players also stood out from that as we take a look at who makes our Indian Team of The Week!
With the brilliant Karanjit Singh being rested by Chennaiyin FC, Pawan Kumar got a rare start for the Super Machans against Mumbai City FC who came with hopes of at least making the top six. While Chennaiyin played a rather inexperienced side, Kumar stood out amongst his peers as he enjoyed a fantastic day between the posts and proved why he’s a solid back-option to have for the Marina Machans.
Kumar was regularly tested by the Blues but managed to make some stunning saves to earn his clean-sheet and make sure his side’s slender lead was maintained throughout the match. Kumar also made some important clearances and definitely impressed his coach who must be chuffed with the luxury of top-class goalkeepers he has at his disposal.
Rahul Bheke was rewarded by Bengaluru FC last month when they extended his contract at the club and he seems someone very happy, which was reflected in his performance against Kerala Blasters. In Bengaluru’s final home game of the season, Bheke was an absolute rock-solid wall in the heart of the Blues defence and did not let the dangerous attack of Kerala go past him on the day.
Bheke made an impressive five tackles in the game and also went onto make four clearances, something which proves just how terrific he was against the Blues’ rivals. He made sure that his fans got the bragging rights in this Southern Derby and put in a memorable performance which proved why he’s so widely loved and trusted by Bengaluru FC and it’s supporters.
Indian Players Team of the Week
Chinglensana Singh was brought in for Mohammed Ali by FC Goa in their crunch final week in the ISL’s league stages and he fully repaid the faith shown by the coach on him. While Singh was a bit unlucky to not get a clean-sheet against ATK, he was at his best against Jamshedpur FC in their crucial final game of the season. He was extremely powerful in the defence and did not let Jamshedpur’s attack rattle him at all.
Chinglensana would fend off the attack of Wellington and Azuka pretty well as he went onto make four clearances to make sure Jamshedpur couldn’t get back into the game. Singh was a crucial part of FC Goa’s impressive defensive display last week and proved how he’s more than capable of playing for the Gaurs in the heart of their defence.
Chennaiyin FC might have already progressed to the knockout rounds prior to their match against Mumbai City FC last week, but their “second string” line-up was really keen on making an impact and asserting their stake in the team. There were some really impressive performances for the Super Machans, with Dhanachandra Singh also shining out in defence for them.
Dhanachandra might have lost his place in the starting XI after a poor start to the season, but he somewhat redeemed himself with a terrific performance against Mumbai City FC. The defender made six clearances for his team and also made a few blocks and tackles to make sure the threatening attack of Mumbai couldn’t penetrate through his defense. His last-ditch tackle early in the game made sure Kumar didn’t end up in trouble and Dhanachandra smoothly contained the Blues attack after that point.
Narayan Das was pivotal to FC Goa’s success in their final few games of the ISL and while he was given more freedom to play on the attack against ATK, he had to be more defensive against Jamshedpur FC. Das linked on really well with Manuel Lanzarote in FC Goa’s thumping win over the defending champions and proved his defensive qualities as he helped the Gaurs to a dominant 3-0 win over Jamshedpur!
Das was especially impressive in the second game where he made an amazing three blocks to stop JFC’s players from being a menace for his team. He also made a few tackles and marked his man really well, making sure Jamshedpur couldn’t penetrate through his wing. The left-back proved why he’s preferred in the Indian National team over others and helped the Gaurs to some crucial wins.
Edwin Vanspaul might’ve been the victim of a freak sending off in Chennai City’s match to Mohun Bagan last month, but he seemed pumped up and looking to redeem himself when his side hosted league leaders Minerva Punjab last week. Vanspaul seemed to be ready for the daunting challenge and started on the front-foot, where he delivered an inviting ball which was met by Soosairaj who opened the scoring for Chennai.
Vanspaul continued to be a menace for Minerva’s midfield and made sure they did not assert their dominance in the game as he neutralized their midfielders really well and did not let them play their natural game. Vanspaul looked to always be high in energy and put in a really work-horse performance to dent Minerva’s title ambitions and keep his team out of the relegation zones of the I-League.
Lenny Rodrigues has been a key man in the midfield of Bengaluru FC many times this season and when his fans needed him to turn up in the final derby of the season, he did exactly so. The engine of the Bengaluru FC midfield put in another energetic performance and was almost everywhere for his side as he covered a lot of ground and his great passing accuracy of 83% proves how well he distributed the ball around the field.
Rodrigues was also there when his side needed him to fulfill his defensive duties, as he made three interceptions which proved to be really crucial for the Blues. He also made a few tackles to take the ball off the Kerala Blasters’ players and put in a tireless performance even though Bengaluru FC had already qualified as the top placed team in the ISL knockout rounds.
Seityasen Singh has been brought a remarkable spark in Delhi Dynamos’ attack in the last few weeks of the ISL season where he proved to be a vital player for them as they finished their season on a high. Seityasen was absolutely ruthless against Mumbai City FC, who visited the capital in desperate need of a win but Singh and Delhi had other plans for them.
The Right channel player provided 2 assists for the Lions
The winger was absolutely brilliant for the Lions and was a terror for Mumbai City on the wings as he made an instant impact by assisting Nandhakumar’s opening goal. He later added another impressive assist to his tally in the second half and ended the game having created five chances for his side! He proved to be an absolute nightmare for the Blues and was instrumental in sinking Mumbai’s hopes at qualifying for the knockout stages.
Michael Soosairaj has proved to be one of the finds for Indian Football this season and he ended his breakthrough season for Chennai City FC on a high by guiding them to a famous win against league-leaders Minerva Punjab. Not many expected Chennai to upset Minerva, but Soosairaj had other plans as he tracked Vanspaul’s ball and scored a very clever opening goal to lift the mood in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
The Chennai City FC captain then turned provider for Alexander Rakic in the second half when he played in a very clever through ball for the new-signing to score and send the fans into raptures. Soosairaj has definitely caught the attention of many with his terrific performances this season and his final performance in the I-League this season was another truly memorable one.
Nikhil Kadam has proved to be a very good winger for Mohun Bagan in the recent months and while it’s almost impossible to fill the void left by Sony Norde, he’s done well to provide good service to his strikers in Dipanda Dicka and Akram Moghrabi. While Kadam has missed many a chances to score in the past few games for the Mariners, he finally broke his jinx when he scored a goal against Churchill Brothers last week.
It made him only the second Indian Player to have scored a goal for the Mariners in the I-League this season(after Sk Faiaz) and that goal proved to be decisive and definitely gave him a boost in confidence as well. Kadam creates many chances for Bagan in almost every game but this goal will definitely give him the boost he needs to finish chances instead of laying it for someone else.
Kadam opened the scoring for the Mariners
Striker: Lalkhawpuimawia (Aizawl FC)
Aizawl FC have seemingly found some new life under new coach Santosh Kashyap, who has especially given a big boost to striker Lalkhawpuimawia who has been on a scoring spree as of late. While Mawia did score a brace a few weeks ago in Aizawl’s buoyant win over Indian Arrows, he was on target yet again, this time against the in-form Gokulam Kerala!
Mapuia scored a very good goal late into the 2nd half when his volley went past all the defenders of Kerala to take the game away from Bino Geroge’s men and seems to have created some very good chemistry with his midfielders as of late. He’ll want to continue his excellent goal-scoring form for Aizawl FC, who will look to redeem themselves with a better showcase in the Super Cup.