The final round of the 2nd Division I-League saw many quality performances.
The I-League 2nd Division Final Round ended with a bang recently, with Real Kashmir completing their fairy-tale run by defeating Hindustan FC to be crowned winners of the 2017/18 season. The final round itself was extremely exciting as it gave way to some thrilling encounters between few of the best sides competing in the league this season.
In the end, it was the determination showed by Real Kashmir which enabled them to earn the opportunity to play their first season in the I-League later this year. Some players shone for their sides and dazzled everyone with their impressive performances. So, here we take a look at five players who impressed in the I-League 2nd Division Final Round.
5. Ritwik Kumar Das (Real Kashmir)
Despite not really having any “stars” in their squad, Real Kashmir did the unthinkable by winning the I-League 2nd Division and have some players to thank for the success. Ritwik Kumar Das is one among them, with his superb performances during the Final Round helping the Leopards to go all the way. Das has been a really intelligent midfielder who proved his eye for goal during the important matches at the business end of the season.
Das made quite an impact against Ozone FC against whom he scored a dramatic equalizer in the 89th minute to make sure that Kashmir could mount a comeback to win their first match of the final round. He continued his impressive goalscoring form and scored another impressive goal against TRAU FC, proving his ability to turn up in the big matches. Das’ overall performance in midfield was quite compelling and he played a big part in their success in the final round.
4. C.S. Sabeeth (Ozone FC)
C.S. Sabeeth has had a lot of experience playing at the top level in Indian football, something which he brought along to Ozone FC when he signed for the Bengaluru side. Sabeeth was a revelation for throughout the season and formed a terrific strike partnership with Ribeiro, with both forwards being key to their attractive football. Sabeeth proved to be a lethal striker not only in the league phase, but in the final round of the 2nd Division as well, where he produced some strong performances for Ozone.
Sabeeth has been one of the standout performers in this season’s 2nd Division I-League
After scoring seven goals in the league phase, Sabeeth continued his impressive form by scoring against the strong Real Kashmir side. Even though Ozone would go onto lose that match, it wouldn’t take away Sabeeth’s hunger for goals and he later scored an impressive early strike against Hindustan as well. Sabeeth was rather unlucky to see his goals go in vain ultimately, but his terrific performances after falling out of favour in Indian football proves how well he’s made a comeback.
3. Kushant Chauhan (Hindustan FC)
Hindustan delivered some really gritty performances in the I-League 2nd Division and even though they barely missed out on promotion, their showing proved how football in Delhi is on the rise. one ofthe players who stoodout was Kushant Chauhan, who had a great outing in the final round. Chauhan was one of the better performers for Hindustan FC during the final round and the striker definitely made his mark in the games.
He helped to earn a valuable point against the dangerous Ozone by scoring an impressive goal and also had a really good outing in their loss to Real Kashmir. Chauhan gave them hope in the match thanks to his fabulous brace, but sadly it wasn’t enough to get them over the line.
2. Robert Ribeiro(Ozone FC)
Ozone FC were quite unfortunate in not being able to give a better shot at qualifying for the I-League, but the kind of football they played was really impressive. Their attacking potential was second to none and a key player in their dazzling attack was Robert Ribeiro, who was signed ahead of the season. Ribeiro had a terrific outing in the league phase, where he scored eight goals for Ozone and helped them qualify from their respective group.
He also continued his impressive form and shone for Ozone in the final phase. Ribeiro managed to score against both Real Kashmir and Hindustan, but was unlucky to see his team only being able to earn draws from those games. Ribeiro must’ve gotten many eyes on him with his performances and knowing his potential as a lethal, strong striker, he will probably get a top division club sooner rather than later.
1. Nadong Bhutia (Real Kashmir)
Bhutia has been an integral part of Real Kashmir’s success this year
Nadong Bhutia had quite a lot of weight on his shoulders when he was signed by Real Kashmir to boost their chances in the final round of the I-League 2nd Division and he repaid their faith in him fantastically. Bhutia has had a lot of experience playing for the likes of United Sikkim, ATK and Mumbai City in the past and proved his ability with some stunning performances.
Bhutia scored an important goal in Kashmir’s first match against Ozone FC and helped them gain a crucial win to boost their chances of winning the title. He also made his mark in their final game against Hindustan FC, when his goal more or less sealed the 2nd Division title for Kashmir.