The cream is starting to rise to the top in the ISL as the newcomers continue to punch above their weight in the Indian top flight
As both the Indian Super League and I-League have started to take shape after several game weeks, the Indian performers have also stepped up their game. In the past week, the ISL has presented the spectators with some unexpected performances by the franchises, as did the I-League. High flying Bengaluru FC were defeated by newcomers Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League whereas the much loved Indian Arrows were forced to accept defeat against Gokulam Kerala on their own turf.
This same week saw Mumbai City’s Balwant Singh scoring a brace as well as Shillong Lajong’s Redeem Tlang scoring the winner and being awarded the Hero of The Match. So, let’s have a look at how the other players performed and who secured a place in our Indian football Team of The Week sheet.
Khel Now Indian Players Team of the Week 6
Goalkeeper: Lalit Thapa (Neroca FC)
A standout performer under the bars for Neroca FC in their recent games, Thapa was instrumental in the I-League newcomers’ visits to both Mohun Bagan and Shillong Lajong in their past two games. However, his performance against Lajong deserves a special mention as he successfully kept a clean sheet against the Reds.
Thapa’s reactions in one-on-one situations have been exemplary this season and is one of the biggest factors in Neroca’s game which has put them in third place in the league standings, just behind Minerva Punjab and East Bengal. His ability to deal with aerial attacks has been remarkable too.
Left-Back: Abhinas Ruidas (Mumbai City)
One of the constant performers for Mumbai City FC this season. Abhinas Ruidas excelled in going forward as well as tracking back to defend against the opposition’s counter-attacks. Ruidas’ 60% pass completion rate complimented his forward runs well, as he created two chances with relative ease.
His defensive work-rate was applauded by both fans and pundits alike as he made five tackles and eight clearances. His only interception of the match broke down a counter-attack by NorthEast United in the second half which could have landed Mumbai City into some trouble. He also linked up well with the attackers, as his five crosses all found the feet the of Mumbai forwards, although, none of which found the back of the net.
Center-Back: Rana Gharami (Mohun Bagan)
Although, a late bloomer, Rana Gharami certainly shut his critics up in style against Neroca FC. The former Mohammedan Sporting defender had an impressive outing against the Manipuri club, where he replaced Kingsley Obumneme in the starting lineup. Gharami displayed a much-needed physical presence in the heart of the Mohun Bagan defence, making interceptions and clearances on the go.
He also performed relatively well against aerial balls, which have been a problem for the Kolkata giants this season. With what might be dubbed as a breakthrough performance for the defender, his heroics might result in the coach, Sanjoy Sen opting for a new central defensive pairing in the future.
Center-back: Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters)
Jhingan concedes penalty
Literally and figuratively, Sandesh Jhingan went from zero to hero in the game against southern rivals Chennaiyin FC. Although, he didn’t play to his usual standards in the first half, he came back a different player in the second. One of the best ball-playing defenders of his time, Jhingan’s low cross found CK Vineeth at the end who scored the equalizer for his side.
He made 14 clearances during the game, and a staggering 60% passing accuracy sets the narrative pretty well. A natural leader, Jhingan led his side through troubled times and came back from behind to secure a crucial point for the Blasters.
Right-Back: Prabir Das (ATK)
It was another astounding performance by the young full-back for ATK. One of the modern Indian full backs, Prabir Das helped his side get an extra pair of feet in the attacking runs. Das made excellent runs to the opposition half through the right wing and put in some handy work with Jayesh Rane and Bipin Singh Thounaojam.
His 71% pass completion rate helped ATK to maintain a passing supremacy on the right side as well as in the middle of the pitch. He also made a staggering 12 tackles, two interceptions and three clearances which speaks highly of his defensive contribution to the team.
Defensive Midfielder: Adil Khan (FC Pune City)
Adil Khan Hero of the Match Vs FC Goa
A brick wall in front of the FC Pune City back four against FC Goa. The versatile midfielder, with all his experience of playing as a centre-back, started deep in midfield in a defensive role. Adil, who is known widely for his interceptions and rotation play, was tasked with handling the FC Goa counter-attacks and creating the play by rotating the ball as the situation develops.
Sitting deep down the midfield, Adil had a staggering 77% passing accuracy as his vision helped the forwards to get sufficient supply of the ball. His defensive performance also helped the Pune side well as he made two clearances, one block and an interception to ward off Adrian Colunga and Manvir Singh multiple times.
Left Midfielder: Redeem Tlang (Shillong Lajong)
Awarded the Hero of The Match by the officials, the Shillong Lajong midfielder displayed an impressive attacking gameplay against rivals Aizawl FC. Regarded highly for his pace and dribbling skills by many, Redeem single-handedly took on the Aizawl defence, making it look virtually invisible on many occasions.
The wide midfielder was also tasked with intercepting aerial plays by the opposition, a task which he completed with aplomb. He scored the only goal of the match on the hour mark, securing three points for his side in what could be described as a hard-fought win.
Central Attacking Midfielder: Romario Jesuraj (Chennai City)
The #18’s performance caught the eye of many fans and pundits alike against East Bengal in the last game. The attacking midfielder created several chances throughout the match, however, none of them were scored from.
In the dying moments of the first half against the Kolkata giants, Jesuraj picked up the ball in the East Bengal box and shot it past goalkeeper Barreto to score the only goal of the match. The young midfielder’s pace and dribbling also disturbed East Bengal greatly.
Right Midfielder: Bipin Singh (ATK)
A super-sub for the misfiring ATK against Delhi Dynamos at the Salt Lake Stadium. The Manipuri midfielder came on for Jayesh Rane in the 69th minute and rejuvenated the attack within minutes. A substantial attacking replacement for the defending champions, Bipin Singh assisted Robbie Keane less than 10 minutes after his substitution, which helped the Irishman seal the fate of the game.
The 22-year-old midfielder also recorded an amazing 75% passing accuracy, which helped the Bengal Tigers to break down the Dynamos’ left wing. He also created two chances for his side, one more than the man he replaced, which speaks volumes of his performance in the match.
Striker: CK Vineeth (Kerala Blasters)
Known widely for his big match performances, CK Vineeth was applauded as nothing less than a messiah when he scored the equalizer for Kerala Blasters against rivals Chennaiyin FC. His attacking prowess made him an easy target for the Chennai defenders which resulted in him being marked throughout the game.
Despite his ineffectiveness in the initial minutes, Rene Meulensteen decided to keep faith in the attacker, to be duly paid back by the 29-year-old in the dying moments of the match.
Striker: Balwant Singh (Mumbai City)
Balwant Singh – Top performer of the week
The standout performer for Mumbai City in their last game in the ISL. The Punjab-born striker is having the time of his life as he has already scored four times since the beginning of the season, paying back the faith which his employers showed upon him.
Being one of the few poachers of his generation, Singh recorded a staggering 50% shot accuracy as two of his four shots went past the NorthEast United goalkeeper in the recently concluded match. His two goals in the 34th and 68th minute skyrocketed his goals tally to four goals, making him one of the highest scoring Indians in the league.