Several Indian youngsters impressed in the final few weeks of 2020.
The seventh edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) ran its course for December through the completion of the game between FC Goa vs Hyderabad FC. Most teams have played a fair number of matches so far and are well-versed with the demands of the league. The ongoing season has presented several exciting talents that have caught the attention of viewers.
Many of them made it to Khel Now’s best XI for the month of December. Along with the newbies, there are some seriously talented international stars who have instantly upgraded the quality of the league. Naturally, those individuals found a place in the lineup too.
Goalkeeper: TP Rehenesh
Jamshedpur FC have maintained one of the meanest defensive lines in the league and TP Rehenesh has been vital to that. The goalkeeper missed the team’s first game this month due to a suspension.
However, Rehenesh started between the posts in the next six games and kept a clean-sheet in three of them. With 27 saves so far, the custodian surpasses Arindam Bhattacharya’s 24 and certainly warrants a place in this lineup.
Right-Back: Pritam Kotal
Pritam Kotal has consistently featured in ATK Mohun Bagan’s playing XI this season. He played six matches in December and started most of those games in the right-back slot. Kotal has recorded 2.6 clearances, 2.8 interceptions and 1.9 tackles per game.
His defensive solidity and discipline have been instrumental in the four-clean sheets that his side registered in December. Kotal has contributed fairly less going ahead and might look to improve on that.
Centre-Back: Stephen Eze
Stephen Eze has been critical to Jamshedpur’s success at both ends of the pitch. The 26-year-old towering centre-back has registered a whopping five clearances and 3.4 interceptions on an average in each match. Eze played seven matches this month and scored three goals too.
He bagged a late equalizer against Hyderabad FC and notched the winner versus Bengaluru FC. The crucial goals further enhance his value in Owen Coyle’s side, as the team look to recover after a subdued start to the season.
Centre-Back: Benjamin Lambot
Benjamin Lambot’s defensive awareness, passing acumen and an arguable no-nonsense attitude has served NorthEast United well. The Belgian averages 5.6 clearances, 1.5 interceptions and a solitary tackle in every match.
He was booked merely once in five appearances in December and even scored a goal in the previous encounter against Odisha FC. Lambot has been assertive offensively, taking 1.6 shots per game and maintaining an accuracy of 56% with his long balls.
Left-Back: Saviour Gama
Saviour Gama barely edged out Akash Mishra to claim this spot in the lineup. The 23-year-old has registered 2.1 interceptions, 2.3 tackles and two clearances on an average in every match.
He assisted Igor Angulo as the striker opened the scoring against Kerala Blasters in the Gaurs’ first game of the month. Otherwise, Gama has been less adventurous offensively and focused primarily on getting the job done neatly at the back.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Carl McHugh
Carl McHugh has efficiently pulled the strings in midfield for ATK Mohun Bagan. He tops the charts in terms of tackles (54) and makes 1.5 interceptions and 1.8 clearances in each match. McHugh played six matches this month and assisted David Williams’ winning goal against Bengaluru.
59% of his passes in the opposition’s half turned out to be accurate and McHugh put in around 2.5 chipped passes in each match too. Having escaped any booking so far, it is safe to say that the midfielder is neatly doing the job asked of him.
Central Midfielder: Rowllin Borges
Rowllin Borges played five matches in December and scored and assisted a goal apiece, despite playing in a deeper role. The midfielder made 2.6 interceptions, 1.1 tackles and a solitary clearance on an average per match.
More importantly, Borges has made 80% accurate passes in the opposition’s half. He has driven the team forward from the middle of the park and plays around 4.6 long balls per game too. Borges’ relentless work-rate has resulted in him winning one aerial duel and 2.3 ground duels every 90 minutes.
Left Winger: Bipin Singh
Bipin Singh has cut a truly transformed figure under the tutelage of Sergio Lobera. The winger has shown sublime skills, piercing pace and an innate skill to setup goals. His ability to stretch the byline, deliver testing crosses and cut incisively inwards add significant variety to the team’s gameplay. The 25-year-old has assisted three goals in his last four appearances.
Singh has delivered 1.8 key passes and crosses per game. His exquisite touch that setup Vignesh Dakshinamurthy’s terrific goal against Hyderabad FC is a testament to Singh’s true quality. The attacker has mostly played on the left flank, but is quite efficient on either side.
Central Attacking Midfielder: Hugo Boumous
After a slow start, Hugo Boumous picked up pace to register four assists in three matches in December. He setup both of Mumbai’s goals in the high-octane encounter against Chennaiyin FC. The attacking midfielder has pretty much run the show for the Islanders when on song.
He seems to have gelled well with Adam le Fondre upfront. Boumous has been tenacious enough to drop back whenever necessary and exert greater influence in the game. His slick passing, quick layoffs and piercing runs have had a major impact on Mumbai’s performances so far.
Right Winger: Liston Colaco
Liston Colaco has made heads turn with his influential outings for Hyderabad this season. The lanky attacker has displayed incredible ball control, pace, ability to take on defenders and has two assists to his name in seven games.
Colaco takes 1.7 shots per game, has created three big goalscoring chances and delivers 1.1 key passes every 90 minutes too. He oozes confidence and a forbearing attitude prevalent in top players. Certainly, there’s a lot of potential in the lad that can be optimized by Manuel Marquez.
Striker: Igor Angulo
Igor Angulo scored six goals in six appearances in December, leading the line ever so brilliantly for FC Goa. The Spaniard looks extremely lethal upfront, as his decisiveness in front of goal is intact even at 36. Angulo has a brilliant ability to run behind defensive lines, much like his predecessor at FC Goa, Ferran Corominas.
He has missed only a solitary big goalscoring opportunity until now and takes an impressive three shots per game. The seasoned striker is well on course to stake his claim for the Golden Boot given his current run of form.
Stat Source: Sofascore