It was a brilliant campaign for several young Indian players.
The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) concluded, as Mumbai City FC did the double by lifting the League Winners’ Shield and the playoffs title. This was the longest season of the competition so far, with 120 league games played among 11 clubs across nearly five months. Many young Indian players emerged during the course of the campaign, whereas others further enhanced their stature.
On the other hand, some international players continued from where they left off last year and others carved an incredible influence in their very first foray in Indian football. Here, we present to you Khel Now’s ISL 2020-21 Team of the Season:
Goalkeeper: Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City)
Amrinder Singh truly turned a new leaf in his career under the tutelage of Sergio Lobera. The goalkeeper’s shot-stopping skills seemed to have improved immensely, as he regularly pulled out some stunning saves to keep the Islanders in the game. He was commanding in the box, making good use of his overall frame.
More importantly, the 27-year-old looked at ease in playing the ball out from the back, something that is integral for Lobera’s gameplay. The metropolis club’s skipper missed out on the Golden Glove, but was the best custodian of the season without a shed of doubt.
Right-Back: Asish Rai (Hyderabad FC)
Asish Rai comfortably slotted into the right-back position and seamlessly adapted to Manolo Marquez’s demands. The 22-year-old was solid defensively and his piercing pace meant that he could make some threatening runs from the flank. He notched two assists in 18 appearances, but recorded 4.1 tackles and 2.83 interceptions per game.
Rai contributed offensively by putting in 2.6 crosses in every match and his laudable defensive work reflects in the fact that he was booked with a yellow card only once throughout the season.
Centre-Back: Benjamin Lambot (NorthEast United)
Benjamin Lambot laid the foundation upon which NorthEast United buil their appreciable campaign. The centre-back was rock-solid in leading the backline, communicating with fellow defenders, dominating aerially and also clearing the ball out sans any fuss in difficult circumstances.
He displayed a no-nonsense attitude and even scored two goals to further raise his indispensability in the Highlanders’ setup. The Belgian registered 3.76 clearances in every match with a passing accuracy of 74.67%.
Centre-Back: Chinglensana Singh (Hyderabad FC)
Chinglensana Singh was another relatively unheralded talent that emerged supremely under Marquez’s tutelage at Hyderabad FC. The centre-back was extremely composed defensively and displayed some terrific positional awareness consistently.
He conveniently passed the ball around and was quick, agile and alert to thwart any threatening attacking moves from the opposition. The 24-year-old managed to even push out senior pro Adil Khan from the Nizams’ setup and has rightly earned a national call-up for his incredible performances in ISL 2020-21.
Left-Back: Akash Mishra (Hyderabad FC)
Akash Mishra’s induction means that three defenders from Marquez’s team make it to our backline. Mishra was arguably the find of the season and he most importantly lived up to the rousing expectations that he had set in the initial few games.
He played 90 minutes in all the 20 league games and registered four tackles, 2.75 interceptions, 1.9 clearances and a whopping 41.35 passes per game. Mishra was regularly involved in attacking moves and also put in 1.7 crosses every 90 minutes. He had one assist and a call-up to the India national team at the end of the season!
Central Midfielder: Ahmed Jahouh (Mumbai City)
The unpredictability and the genius of Ahmed Jahouh formed the bedrock of Mumbai City FC’s style of play in ISL 2020-21. The central midfielder’s creative ingenuity from deep initiated the Islanders’ attacking moves. His tenacious defensive efforts and the ability to win the ball back, play it past a few opposition players before launching a curling cross-field pass added a dynamic dimension to Mumbai’s gameplay.
Jahouh recorded five assists in 20 matches and put in 8.65 tackles on an average in every game. With most touches, second-most passes, most tackles, seventh-most assists, Jahouh clearly warrants his selection in our team of the season.
Central Midfielder: Lalengmawia (NorthEast United)
Lalengmawia had already shown glimpses of his talent in the previous campaign. However, he really came into his own this year, firstly under the stewardship of Gerard Nus and then Khalid Jamil. The central midfielder oozes energy, class and temperament in the middle of the mark. He registered 4.22 tackles, 2.09 interceptions and 36.86 passes in every game.
Apuia maintained a passing accuracy of 74.47% and scored an absolute pile-driver against Kerala Blasters in his team’s final game of the league stages. His ball-playing ability and footwork earned the applause of several key personalities and he will be hoping to replicate the same in the India jersey soon.
Right Midfielder: Hugo Boumous (Mumbai City)
Hugo Boumous couldn’t live up to the standards he had set with FC Goa in 2019-20, but one needs to understand that clocking double-digit goals and assists isn’t a feat that can be replicated every time. Nevertheless, the star attacking midfielder remained a vital cog in Lobera’s setup, as he notched three goals and seven assists in 16 appearances.
Boumous scored twice against his former employers and setup several key goals with his smart movement, footwork and ability to take on defenders near the box. He regularly tracked back and won the ball by recording 3.22 tackles in every match. Boumous dropped deep to initiate moves too and played across the frontline, thus showcasing Lobera’s immense belief in his abilities. Undoubtedly, his numbers and overall performances would have looked even better if he didn’t miss seven games due to injuries and suspensions.
Left Midfielder: Bipin Singh (Mumbai City)
Bipin Singh’s emergence into a top-drawer attacker was arguably the story of this ISL season. The winger always had some terrific pace and ball-control to trouble the opposition. But, Lobera’s coaching efforts were visible in the overall progress that he made in terms of goal contributions and efficiency in the 18-yard box.
The 26-year-old scored six goals and assisted four others in 22 appearances last season. He netted the only hat-trick of the campaign and fittingly capped off the season by scoring the winner in the final versus ATK Mohun Bagan.
Striker: Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
Igor Angulo faced the mountanous challenge of filling in Ferran Corominas’ shoes, but he did that ever so brilliantly for FC Goa. The Spaniard emerged as the highest goalscorer in the campaign, as he bagged 14 goals in 21 appearances. Angulo’s overall game awareness, fleet-footedness and the ability to spot passes and time his sprints accordingly meant that he regularly managed to get behind the opposition’s backline. His goalscoring efficiency eased Goa’s transition into a new era under the stewardship of Juan Ferrando.
Striker: Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)
Roy Krishna grabbed the headlines with his dynamic gameplay upfront, as he topped the goalscoring charts with Angulo and also bagged an additional eight assists in 23 appearances. Krishna’s late goals were instrumental in ATK Mohun Bagan’s run to the final of the competition.
The Fijian undertook a more creative role in the final few games and that further highlighted his versatility. He even assisted David Williams through his relentless pressing and decision-making in the final third against the Islanders on Saturday. Certainly, Roy Krishna has become one of the most significant international players in the recent history of Indian football.