The sixth edition of the league saw several newbies rise into the limelight with their brilliance on the pitch.
The Indian Super League (ISL) season drew to a conclusion with ATK triumphing over Chennaiyin FC to claim their third title in the six editions. This time around, certain very impressive young players emerged to play pivotal roles for their respective teams.
They specifically stood apart as the notable talents to have taken the field in the 2019-20 season. Here, we highlight five such players:
5. Jessel Carneiro (Kerala Blasters)
The 29-year-old left-back was roped in by Kerala Blasters from Dempo SC ahead of the season. The smooth transition that Jessel Carneiro made from the Goa Professional League to the Indian Super League was one of the highlights of the campaign for Eelco Schattorie’s team.
He played 18 matches and was probably the most consistent performer for the side alongside Bartholomew Ogbeche and Raphael Messi Bouli.
Carneiro assisted an impressive five goals and also whipped in 55 crosses from the flank. He was tenacious defensively and also made 28 tackles and 78 clearances throughout the season. Another impressive facet of his play was the sheer discipline that Jessel displayed.
Despite being the only player to have played every minute of the campaign for his team, Carneiro was shown the yellow card only twice. He has now signed a three-year extension to his contract with the Blasters.
4. Suresh Singh Wangjam (Bengaluru FC)
Suresh Singh Wangjam truly had a defining season with Bengaluru FC, as he emerged as one of their shining lights despite having ended the campaign trophyless this time around. Wangjam played 11 games in the ISL and three in the AFC Cup.
He notched an assist in the ISL, but was particularly impressive in the defensive half of the field, where he acted as a shield for the Bengaluru backline. He registered 39 tackles and 15 interceptions along with a neat passing accuracy of 74.09%.
Teams often tend to rely on offshore players to add quality and creative spark to their midfield. However, this domestic starlet provided another dimension to the team’s play in the middle of the park.
Wangjam was vastly praised for his fantastic performance against ATK in the first leg of the semi-final and a lot more of the same could be expected from the lad if he is backed by the management.
3. Edwin Vanspaul (Chennaiyin FC)
Edwin Vanspaul played in all barring one match for Chennaiyin FC this season. This was his first involvement in the ISL and an unflagging and persistent attitude whilst chasing the ball from deep in midfield ensured that he rounded off the campaign on a successful individual note.
In 20 encounters, Vanspaul notched 81 tackles and 47 interceptions. He also made 69 clearances along with 25 blocks to become a proper mainstay in Chennaiyin’s midfield. The former Chennai City FC player transformed to become the engine in the midfield for Owen Coyle’s team, as he along with Anirudh Thapa guaranteed that the defensive line was adequately shielded, while the forwards received the ball in their desired positions too.
Moreover, Vanspaul had a passing accuracy of 72.52%, but the pace and intent with which Chennaiyin tended to play under Coyle’s tutelage meant there was scope for a reasonable number of passes to be misplaced.
The midfielder was tireless with his approach, winning the ball back through some crunching challenges and sustaining that intensity through the entire duration of the season.
2. Lalengmawia (NorthEast United
NorthEast United endured a troublesome season; a campaign in which they had very few positives. However, 19-year-old central midfielder Lalengmawia was terrific in the 10 matches he played.
The lad spent 900 minutes on the field and demonstrated his versatility brilliantly, by being productive on the defensive front and yet being able to provide glimpses of the offensive spark that he can induce in the final third.
He is someone who casually dribbles, takes on and then beats his adversaries through his immaculate ball-control. Without the ball too, he is very much aware of the moves taking place around him. Accordingly, he made 60 tackles and 24 interceptions over the course of the season.
Lalengmawia made 48.6 passes on an average in each game, showing that he has the intent to constantly stay involved in the proceedings. He maintained a passing accuracy of 80.45%, which is credible considering that he had the tendency to often wander ahead and make some concise forward passes with the ball.
Though he could not make any goal contributions, it could safely be assumed that Lalengmawia could deliver better results if the team as a whole lifts up their standard of performance too.
1. Sumit Rathi (ATK)
Sumit Rathi was named the ISL Emerging Player of the Season and it would arguably be erratic to assume that anyone but him deserved that honour. Rathi played as part of a three-man backline and made 14 appearances in what was his debut ISL campaign.
He was dogged and tireless defensively, making a whopping 115 clearances throughout the season. To complement that, Rathi made 27 tackles, 19 interceptions and 18 blocks too.
He was unshakeable at times, being resolute, purposeful and strong-willed with the moves that he made to prevent any incisive movement from the opposition to bypass him. Rathi showed that he possessed the ability to identify and disrupt the concise offensive patterns developed by the adversaries.
The 18-year-old also maintained a laudable 73.97% passing accuracy, showing that he could be trustworthy to build play from the back. He was shown the yellow card only twice and became an integral component of Antonio Habas’ champion setup within a very short period of time.