Yet another week where one could say proudly, Indian players outshone their foreign counterparts.

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season is slowly and steadily heading towards its business end. Despite several teams being severely affected by the absence of COVID-positive players, the league has continued with its schedule, flexed from time-to-time. Hyderabad FC continue to sit at the top of the table, with 29 points from 16 games. ATK Mohun Bagan are second with equal points, having played a game less. Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters round off the top four.

This gameweek, ISL 2021-22 witnessed the comeback of party-spoilers NorthEast United, who defeated Bengaluru FC 2-1. In another thrilling encounter, Mumbai City FC were defeated 3-2 by Jamshedpur, with Igor Angulo failing to convert from the spot. Kerala Blasters and ATK Mohun Bagan continued their good work and Odisha FC held Chennaiyin to a 2-2 draw. Let’s head straight to our ISL 2021-22 Team of the Week for Gameweek 19.

Goalkeeper: TP Rehenesh (Jamshedpur FC)

To take home three points from games such as these, one of the two goalkeepers has to put in a performance worth bragging about. On Thursday, it was TP Rehenesh who slept better.

The Kasargod-born custodian made no less than six saves and made sure his team kept the lead in the 70th minute, saving a penalty from Igor Angulo and the rebound attempt as well.

Right-Back: Joe Zoherliana (NorthEast United)

Joe Zoherliana
The 22-year-old was exceptional in the right-back position against Bengaluru FC (Courtesy: ISL Media)

After a series of average performances, Joe Zoherliana came into his own against Bengaluru FC, dominating the right flank with composure and confidence.

He was a regular presence in the opposition half and delivered some sweet crosses throughout the 90. In the 74th minute, Joe became provider, as Deshorn Brown scored for the Highlanders to level scores.

Centre-Back: Slavko Damjanovic (Chennaiyin FC)

Chennaiyin FC managed a draw against Odisha FC, but the Marina Machans could’ve gone home without a point, if not for their Montenegrin defender Damjanovic.

The behemoth blocked five shots and added two interceptions and two tackles. Clocking a 91% successful passing rate, he made sure his team controlled the ball well. Damjanovic was an absolute beast against Odisha.

Centre-Back: Enes Sipovic (Kerala Blasters)

Enes Sipovic
Sipovic stepped up in Leskovic’s absence with a goal and a solid performance at the back (Courtesy: ISL Media)

With Marko Leskovic out, Enes Sipovic had to take matters in his own hand – and the man did exactly that. In the 49th minute, Sipovic converted a corner from Puitea to give his team the lead.

Post that, he made sure that the door was kept closed, making six clearances. His blocked shot ensured that the Yellow Submarine went home with three points in their pocket.

Left-Back: Anwar Ali (FC Goa)

FC Goa lost 2-0 against ATK Mohun Bagan, but Anwar Ali’s performance stood out. This boy was everywhere on the pitch. He struck the crossbar with a rasping drive in the 34th minute and also prevented Manvir Singh’s hat-trick in the 76th minute, with a goal-line clearance. Anwar Ali put in a tremendous performance and that too in a makeshift position.  

Right Midfielder: VP Suhair (NorthEast United)

One of the most hardworking Indian players every time he’s on the pitch, VP Suhair put in another shift against Bengaluru FC. NEUFC created three big chances – two of them were created by Suhair himself.

His combination play with Joe Zoherliana created a glorious opportunity in the first half, with Imran Khan failing to convert a header. Suhair has been one of the shining lights in a disappointing season for NorthEast United.

ISL 2021-22 Team of the Week
ISL 2021-22 Team of the Week for Gameweek 19

Central Defensive Midfielder: Lenny Rodrigues (ATK Mohun Bagan)

Who’s better at controlling the tempo of games in India than Lenny Rodrigues? The Goan is the traditional No. 6, turning, moving, finding gaps and recycling possession with typical tenacity and ease.

Against FC Goa, the midfielder found Manvir Singh with a delightful through ball, threaded across the defence. The rest, as they say, is history.

Central Attacking Midfielder: Greg Stewart (Jamshedpur FC)

The sheer understanding to run and latch on to the layoff by Ritwik Das displayed by Greg Stewart shows his class. The way he calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net past Mohammad Nawaz shows how easily he handles pressure.

He also created another big chance and deserved to walk out with three points. With him in their ranks, the Men of Steel have a real gem.

Left Midfielder: Ritwik Das (Jamshedpur FC)

Ritwik Das
With a goal and assist, Ritwik Das starred for Jamshedpur FC (Courtesy: ISL Media)

What an outing this lad has had against defending champions Mumbai City. After that brilliant layoff to create the first goal for Stewart, Ritwik got on the end of things himself and scored the second in the 30th minute.

His late run into the box reminded me of Adam Lallana from his very successful 2015-16 season at Anfield. At 25, Ritwik is peaking at just the right age.

Striker: Manvir Singh (ATK Mohun Bagan)

It is sheer pleasure for any Indian football fan to watch Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh hunt as a pair, even more so when they do it with such brutality. Rarely has global football witnessed the knuckle-ball technique being used from corners, but when Liston used it in the third minute against FC Goa, he knew he had Manvir Singh complementing it with the right touch.

The Indian No. 9 should have got his third as well, if not for Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem. The right development of this pair in ISL 2021-22 bodes well for Indian football.

Striker: Rahim Ali (Chennaiyin FC)

Rahim Ali
Rahim Ali scored and assisted against Odisha FC (courtesy: ISL Media)

It was weird to see Rahim drop into the midfield at times for the Marina Machans against Odisha FC, but he put his frame to optimal use, winning all the aerial duels he participated in. The lad from Barrackpore opened the scoring in the third minute and also assisted for the out-of-form Nerijus Valskis in the 69th minute.

He also created three other chances, with two of them warranting a finish. However, this performance will do the youngster’s confidence a world of good.

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