NorthEast United’s Pawan Kumar is ranked third in the race.
While most eyes are focused on prolific goal-scorers like Ferran Corominas (FC Goa), Bartholomew Ogbeche (NorthEast United FC) and recent hat-trick hero Moudou Sougou (Mumbai City FC), the race for the best goalkeeper is proving to be even more intriguing.
For now, Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet leads the race. He is the only goalkeeper in the top three to have played every minute of Bengaluru’s campaign in the ISL this season. He has played for 1530 minutes; only ATK goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharja can equal that record this season, but Gurpreet will be challenged till the finish by Mumbai’s excellent keeper Amrinder Singh.
Amrinder has had a safe pair of hands in the tournament as Mumbai have conceded only 16 times at an average of 89.56 minutes per goal while Amrinder was guarding the posts. It is no surprise that the 25-year-old keeper has managed to keep the most number of clean sheets (six) this season. A lot of credit for the Islanders’ qualification to the play-offs goes to the Punjab-born keeper. He had been offered a lucrative three-year deal by Mumbai at the beginning of the season and he is proving that every penny spent on him has been worth it.
Gurpreet is the best-paid Indian goalkeeper in history and he is putting all his European experience to good use in the ISL. With Gurpreet in goal, Bengaluru’s defence has had a comfortable time with the three goals conceded against Delhi Dynamos FC being an aberration.
Gurpreet has five clean sheets and has pulled off the maximum number of saves (55) this season. For many games, he has single-handedly earned valuable points for his side on nights when Bengaluru were not at their best.
According to ISL stats, Gurpreet concedes a goal every 90 minute, while Amrinder, believe it or not, is following him extremely closely, after conceding a goal every 89.56 minute!
The third keeper in the list is Pawan Kumar, whose consistency has helped Eelco Schattorie’s NorthEast United make it to the play-offs of the ISL for the first time.
With five clean sheets and 52 saves, Kumar has established himself as the undisputable choice under the sticks ahead of TP Rehenesh. NorthEast had suffered due to the inconsistency of Rehenesh and the 28-year-old goalkeeper has shown that Schattorie has made the correct decision in placing his trust on him.
Moreover, the keeper has displayed nerves of steel in pressure situations and also boasts of a spotless disciplinary record.
The performances of these goalkeepers have proved that a solid presence under the sticks is vital for success in the ISL. Now, as the play-offs draw nearer, they will hold the key to their team’s success in the knockout stage.