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Joni Kauko, Aiban make debut in ISL 2021-22 Team of the Week

Published at :February 14, 2022 at 10:17 PM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Riddhiman Sarkar

Some of these players put in impeccable performances to seal their spot into the XI.

Another action-packed gameweek of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 came to an end yesterday, with Mumbai City’s thrashing of Odisha FC. It all began with FC Goa’s 5-0 drubbing of Chennaiyin FC, in which Jorge Ortiz starred. This was shortly followed by Jamshedpur FC’s authoritative 3-0 victory over Kerala Blasters that saw Greg Stewart convert two penalties. Hyderabad FC got back to winning ways with a slender 2-1 victory over Bengaluru FC. ATK Mohun Bagan maintained their dream start under Juan Ferrando, as they got their fifth win against NorthEast United. 

Mumbai City closed the curtains for the week, as they ran riot in their impressive 4-1 win against Odisha FC. This week’s fixtures saw a minimum of three goals scored in each match. Now, that itself is testimony to how good some players were for their respective teams. Let’s have a look at the inclusions in the ISL 2021-22 Team of the Week for Gameweek 18:

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Goalkeeper: Amrinder Singh (ATK Mohun Bagan FC)

One of the key factors in ATK Mohun Bagan’s solid run under Juan Ferrando has been their organized and compact defending. As the last line of defence, goalkeeper Amrinder Singh led by example this week.

He only faced a total of five shots on target, but excelled at keeping almost all of them out. After VP Suhair’s opener went in at his near post, he was determined to keep the Highlanders at bay. Later on, Marco Sahanek’s far post curler saw him make an outstanding full stretch to deny the Austrian. Despite not getting a clean-sheet, Amrinder made sure his team had a comfortable two-goal lead to see out the game.

Right-Back: Roshan Singh (Bengaluru FC)

Roshan Singh
Naorem Roshan has been one of the best performers for Bengaluru FC this season (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Bengaluru’s versatile full-back enjoyed another stellar performance, despite a loss against Hyderabad FC. No, he did not score a worldie like the one against Kerala, but he was undoubtedly Bengaluru’s brightest spark in defence. Despite not getting an assist, he ensured that he was vigilant and marked Hyderabad’s attackers efficiently.

His 88 touches on the ball saw him make two key passes, but neither of them could result in a goal. His seven crosses and six long balls were ample proof of his penetrative effect in attack. Additionally, he won eight out of his 14 ground duels and two of his three aerial duels.

Centre-Back: Anwar Ali (FC Goa)

The 21-year old defender starred at the heart of the defence against Chennaiyin FC. A seventh successive start for Goa after his winter transfer, saw him justify his status. He has been identified as one of the promising youngsters in Indian football and rightly so.

Anwar Ali did not have to weather too many attempts, as Goa were continuously on the front foot. But, whenever Chennaiyin came calling, he responded well. He won both of his ground duels, while making two blocks and two interceptions. He was also reliable on the ball, as he completed 78% of his 65 passes and got 72 touches on the ball. 

Centre-Back: Mehtab Singh (Mumbai City FC)

Mehtab Singh
Mehtab Singh has formed a solid partnership with Mourtada Fall at the back (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Mehtab first broke into the starting XI following Mourtada Fall’s dismissal against Kerala Blasters. Since then, he has put in some rigorous shifts to retain his position, alongside Rahul Bheke and Fall himself. Des Buckingham once again reposed his faith in the centre-back and he repaid it earnestly. 

Though he was unable to preserve Mumbai City’s clean-sheet, Mehtab was solid in reading the game. He kept Odisha’s attackers at bay, with four interceptions and two no-nonsense clearances. Tackling also seemed to come naturally to the defender, as he won both of his ground duels. The Islanders’ style of play also meant that he enjoyed a bulk of possession and displayed maturity, as he completed 83% of his passes. 

Left-Back: Aiban Dohling (FC Goa)

Dohling was another star performer for FC Goa, as he single-handedly maneuvered the creation of two goals. Goa’s reliance on the left-back proved to be surprisingly rewarding, as he became the primary outlet of creativity. Despite being minimally active in defence, he left his mark on the game.

The Indian defender won his only aerial duel and one out of his two ground duels. However, it was while going forward that he really proved to be a threat, as he completed a staggering 90% of his passes. Among these, four were key passes and two were brilliant assists for Makan Chothe and Jorge Ortiz.

ISL 2021-22 Team of Gameweek 18
ISL 2021-22 Team of Gameweek 18

Central Midfielder: Joni Kauko (ATK Mohun Bagan FC)

The Finnish midfielder picked up his Player of the Match award of ISL 2021-22, as he scored his first league goal for the Mariners this season. Though his creative side was reflected in his three key passes and 86% passing accuracy, the athletic Kauko was also active with his tackling. He began proceedings with a cracking finish from outside the box, as he drew ATK Mohun Bagan level with NorthEast United. 

The match saw him complete his only attempted tackle. His ability to drop into half-spaces proved extremely effective. A penetrative pass from Tiri found him with a bit of space, as he effortlessly rolled the ball into Liston Colaco’s path. Liston’s controlled dribbling and composed finish ensured that Kauko turned provider this time around and finished on a high.

Central Midfielder: Greg Stewart (Jamshedpur FC)

Greg Stewart
Stewart scored a brace against Kerala Blasters to take his season tally to seven goals (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Jamshedpur FC surprised high-flying Kerala Blasters, as they displaced them from second with a win. Once again, star midfielder Greg Stewart led the proceedings with two goals to his name. Though his variety in scoring spot-kicks must be commended, they were conceded mostly due to lapses from the Blasters. 

Stewart earned and converted his first penalty with a well-placed bottom corner finish. The next opportunity arose when Boris Singh went down inside Kerala’s box. He stepped up once again, but this time, he dinked the ball over the keeper with a cheeky panenka. 55 touches on the ball and one successful take-on summed up his evening.

Right Winger: Bipin Singh (Mumbai City FC)

Mumbai City played some high-intensity football against Odisha and Bipin Singh’s performance was a first-hand witness to that. The Indian winger enjoyed a brilliant evening, as Mumbai capitalized on Odisha’s lapses with their effective pressing tactics. His first of the night came when he collected Ahmed Jahouh’s ball following a quick counter and blasted in a near-post shot. 

He followed that up with his ball for Igor Angulo, who dished out an insane fake shot before finishing with his weaker foot. The Islanders’ incessant pressing high up the pitch saw him successfully get on the end of another attempt, as he finished from point-blank range. Completed three of his four take-ons and ended his evening with an 86% passing accuracy. 

Left Winger: Liston Colaco (ATK Mohun Bagan FC)

Liston Colaco
With seven goals, Colaco is the highest Indian scorer in ISL 2021-22 (Courtesy: ISL Media)

ATK Mohun Bagan’s 23-year-old rapid winger is this season’s highest-scoring Indian in ISL 2021-22. Need we say more? He has repeatedly proven his caliber, with notably glorious strikes against the likes of Goa and NorthEast. Moreover, his strike against the Gaurs was one of the fastest shots recorded, clocking in at 181 km/h. 

Against NorthEast, he was once again the spearhead of ATK Mohun Bagan’s attack, as his majestic dribbling and finishing terrorized the opposition. The lightest of touches got him an assist in the 21st minute, as he teed up Joni Kauko for the opener. He switched roles with the Finnish midfielder on the brink of half-time. In this instance, he took the ball into his stride with his first touch, left two defenders on the ground with his second and finished emphatically with his third. Add to that, another five key passes made throughout the game and you have a perfectly rounded performance.

Striker: Jorge Ortiz (FC Goa)

FC Goa have not exactly been a hit in ISL 2021-22, as they occupy ninth place in the table. However, their match against Chennaiyin saw them roar back to life, as Spaniard Jorge Ortiz led the line with a hat-trick. These goals also saw him rise to third place in the Golden Boot chart for ISL 2021-22, behind Mumbai City’s Angulo. 

His first of the night was a clever one, as he controlled a haplessly cleared ball and finished with a top corner strike. Alberto Noguera then did a sombrero flick over the heads of Deepak Devrani and Slavko Damjanovic to tee him up for another smart finish. The final goal was another brilliant strike, as he collected from Dohling, beat one man and planted his finish at the near post. 58 minutes on the pitch and 42 touches was all he needed to wreak havoc among the Chennaiyin ranks!


Striker: Igor Angulo (Mumbai City FC)

Igor Angulo
Igor Angulo ended his five-match dry run with a brace (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Goals and Igor Angulo have almost become synonymous after the Spaniard’s ISL debut last season. However, he began this gameweek, six goals adrift of Bartholomew Ogbeche’s 14 goals atop the Golden Boot charts.

Angulo had quite surprisingly scored last in their defeat to Odisha in the reverse fixture, but once again found his scoring boots. He scored twice this time around, as Mumbai handed out a 4-1 defeat to the Juggernauts. After giving them the lead in the 41st minute with an exquisite header, he went on to dazzle everyone with his second. Bipin’s pass released the Spaniard, as he left Gaurav Bora scrambling in his wake, to finish at the far post. Apart from his goalscoring duties, he was also adept in possession, as he completed 85% of his passes.

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