India football this season went through a lot of ebbs and flows and there have been players who have emerged to the limelight while others have failed to live up to their expectations.
While youngsters like Anirudh Thapa, Ashique Kuruniyan and Soosairaj gave great accounts of themselves through the season there were players who fizzled out under the burden of expectations from the Indian football fans. For some of them, it was a litmus test while others were quite familiar with proceedings yet failed to turn up their best through the season.
5. Pintu Mahata
The Mohun Bagn local boy who was the centre of their Calcutta Football League (CFL) win after eight years drought. Pintu was a sensation under coach Shankar Lal Chakraborty, as the youngster showed a great burst of speed and tenacity at the start of the season. However, just when the expectations from the teenager started to rise, he faltered under pressure and the internal chaos within the club did not help his cause either.
Despite getting the chances Pintu struggled to replicate his form in the I-League. What followed was worse for the youngster as he was sidelined for a considerable amount of time and even Shankar Lal resigned from his position. In came Khalid Jamil to take his position and the former Aizawl FC tactician did not show much interest to Pintu’s case.
Pintu Mahata has shown glimpses of his brilliance in the CFL and there is no denying his potential in any way. He should look to take this as a learning curve and improve on the mistakes next season.
4. Jerry Lalrinzuala
It was a dream season for Jerry as he became on the first names to John Gregory’s team list last season. The 20-year gave some inspiring performances and guided the Marina Machans to their second Indian Super League title and individually bagged the “Emerging Player of the season” for his consistent performances. He was a vital cog John Gregory’s side last season and hence the expectations were pretty high from the fans.
Jerry had a season to forget for the Marina Machans this time around
But persistent injury problems did not help his cause as he also missed the AFC Asian Cup and a torrid time with Chennaiyin throughout. Jerry only appeared in 10 matches in the ISL and failed to replicate his form from last season with limited impact in both attack and defence.
However, a late resurgence from the former DSK Shivajians man came in the Supercup as he delivered a great display against ATK in the semifinals and even featured in the Supercup final against FC Goa which they eventually lost. It is necessary for someone like Jerry to keep learning and take this experience as a lesson and come back strongly next season.
3. VP Suhair
Kerala born forward showed signs of promise but failed to standout when Gokulam Kerala needed him the most. Blessed with the physical prowess, Suhair also possesses a great amount of energy and speed to cause problems for any defenders. However, he could only muster a single goal along with an assist whole season.
The East Bengal loanee started the season really well, as he worked very hard to create chances for his fellow attackers. However, as his form dipped Suhair found himself on the bench instead of the starting eleven. The 26-year old missed his shooting boots all season as his form was a clear indication of Gokulam Kerala’s misery in the I-League. Suhair will be hoping to come back with a strong reply next season and some reports suggest that he might be on his way back to East Bengal.
2. Bikramjit Singh
Delhi Dynamos roped in Bikramjit after his heroic performances for Chennaiyin which helped his side to lift the ISL trophy last season. The 26-year old midfielder was brought to add more steel in the middle of the park for the Lions but he had an average season to his standards.
Bikramjit’s inconsistency did not help him playing for the Dynamos
Delhi Dynamos had a sluggish start to the season and gradually gathered momentum at the back end of the Indian Super League. Similarly, fans had tremendous expectation from Bikramjit but his graph was pretty similar to his team’s performance this season. He could only manage 8 interceptions all season which is one of his primary attributes as a deep-lying midfielder.
Bikramjit’s poor run of form forced Josep Gombau to play young Vinit Rai over the experienced campaigner. Being a seasoned midfielder who has been around for quite a few years, Bikramjit Singh will probably return next season with his old vigour to answer all his critics.
1. Samuel Lalmuanpuia
One of the brightest youngsters in the I-League for the last two seasons. Samuel has been the flagbearer of talent at Shillong Lajong. But this season he wasn’t at his best very evidently.
Samuel was exceptional last season with only three goals and five assists to show for it but the overall aura of the youngster was superb in that Shillong side. However this season despite bagging three goals Samuel was good in patches. He was even dropped from the starting eleven for his inconsistent performances on numerous occasions this season.
Samuel has now joined Minerva Punjab on loan for their AFC Cup campaign. However, he can be one of the top players in the country as he very technically gifted and has tremendous ball control along with stunning set-piece skills. Amidst all this he needs to keep his mind at the right place and with all the talent he has it will be a huge loss if he does not reaches full potential.