The first team of 2018 sees the I-League outshine her more glamorous sister the ISL.
In the midst of the festive season, the entire Indian football picture lit up quickly in the recently concluded game week. The Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League provided some breathtaking football to the spectators throughout the country, some of which managed to create new records.
In the I-League, East Bengal went top of the table and Mohun Bagan drew against Indian Arrows. The ISL saw Pune and Mumbai maintaining their supremacy as the Indian footballers stole the show. Let’s have a look at which Indians managed to get into the Team of the Week.
The 17-year-old Manipuri goalkeeper had an impressive outing against Mohun Bagan in the last game week. Although the match ended in a 1-1 draw, Dheeraj kept his cool throughout the match and cancelled out the Mariners’ attacks several times in the game.
The Arrows custodian was effective in one-on-one situations as well as aerial balls, which resulted in the Arrows securing one point from the Kolkata giants.
One of the standout defenders in Mumbai City’s 4-0 thrashing of Delhi Dynamos. Pradhan displayed an amazing attacking flair in his game while he was also rock solid tracking back. The full-back recorded a 67% passing accuracy during his time on the pitch, which helped his side keep possession supremacy in the first hour. He also made three vital tackles where he regained possession and one clearance, which could have emerged as a problem for the visitors.
A versatile defender, Bheke had a massive effect on Bengaluru’s defensive gameplay against Kerala Blasters. One of the few ball-playing defenders in the country, the former East Bengal defender recorded a staggering 69% pass completion rate against Kerala, creating opportunities for his side upfront. A brick wall in the defence, he made five very important clearances.
Indian Team of the week 7
One of the emerging defenders in the country since the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Ali was instrumental in Arrows sharing spoils against Kolkata giants Bagan. The 17-year-old defender fought toe-by-toe against the comparatively more physical Mariner counterparts.
Ali made some important interceptions in the game against the Mariners, which spoke volumes of his defensive abilities. His impressive aerial abilities forced the hosts to limit themselves to pouring in long balls, denying them to score from crosses and corners.
Fan view of the equalising penalty for Mohun Bagan against Indian Arrows
Another standout defensive figure in Bengaluru’s win over Blasters. Bose was arguably the best defender in the game against the southerners. He recorded an amazing 78% passing accuracy against the Blasters, feeding the forwards upfront.
He also created three chances in the game, one of which resulted in an assist. His defensive work also included three clearances, two interceptions and two blocks.
A member of Aizawl FC’s I-League winning campaign, Ralte followed Khalid Jamil to East Bengal at the beginning of the season. The wide midfielder was instrumental in the team’s draw against newly promoted side NEROCA FC, where he complimented Willis Plaza and Katsumi Yusa throughout the game.
His attacking runs made quite an impact in the game. The Mizoram-born player also laid the foundation for his side’s only goal against the visitors.
The standout performer for East Bengal against Gokulam Kerala. Rafique was instrumental against the newly established side and scored the only goal of the match in the 44th minute. Known for his tricky movement, Rafique linked up with Charles Souza and Plaza well in the final third, keeping the Gokulam defenders on guard at all times. His heroics resulted in East Bengal securing three points and he was awarded the Hero of the Match at the end of the game.
A versatile midfielder, Lalmuankima delivered a very impressive performance against both Gokulam and Minerva Punjab in the last round of the I-League. The midfielder often interchanged his position from the wide areas to the middle of the park and defended against opposition counter-attacks. His attacking gameplay saw him linking up with Yugo Kobayashi brilliantly and helped the Japanese forward to play free-flowing football.
Another emerging talent in the country, Rahul KP displayed a marvellous performance against Mohun Bagan. Known for his raw pace, Rahul equalized for his side in the 33rd minute, helping the Arrows to secure a single point.
Unable to cope up with his tricky movement, the Mohun Bagan defenders were unable to contain him, which gave the playmaker several opportunities to find gaps in the Mariners’ rearguard. His dribbling skills and off the ball movement also helped the other Arrows attackers to go forward.
Sunil Chhetri lead from the front to beat Kerala Blasters in their own backyard
The skipper of his side, Chhetri had an impressive outing against Blasters as well. The Secundrabad-born forward was instrumental in the upfront and ended up scoring a penalty goal in the 60th minute.
He achieved 100% shooting accuracy, as all three of his shots were on target. A dribbling magician of sorts, the 33-year-old forward linked up impressively with Miku which resulted in the duo scoring all the goals for the Blues.
Since the beginning of the tournament this year, Balwant Singh has emerged as a threat to be reckoned with in the Mumbai City ranks. One of the highest scoring Indians in the league this season, Singh defeated the Delhi custodian in the last round of the ISL this year.
One of the most lethal Indian strikers, Singh was fouled several times in the game but came out successful once again. He also created a chance, but unfortunately could not get on the assists chart.