I-League Indian TOTP 1: Arjun Jayaraj and Bilal Khan wow supporters with their performances
Written by: Ajay A K
Sourav Das has been a standout performer for Mohun Bagan, this season.
The first ten matches of the I-League are done and dusted and certain performances have caught the eye of the crowd. East Bengal and Chennai City have emerged as leaders of the pack with dominant displays. Shillong Lajong and Real Kashmir have also impressed during the course of the games and all signs point towards a thrilling season. A few domestic players stoodout due to their thrilling displays.
Naorem Singh and Justin lead the attack due to their impressive displays
Goalkeeper – Bilal Khan (Real Kashmir)
The Real Kashmir custodian was an inspiring figure in goal. The I-League debutants managed to thwart the advances of Minerva Punjab largely thanks to the efforts put in by the former Pune City keeper.
He was adjudged the Hero of the Match as his superb saves kept out the menacing attack of the defending champions. The keeper was on constant alert throughout the match preventing William Opoku from scoring early in the first half and denying him again at the start of the second, after producing a stunning save to stop Ivorian player Alexandre’s shot. His performances helped the Northerners to register their maiden win on their top flight debut.
Right-Back – Lalramchullova (East Bengal)
The Red and Gold’s right-back was an unmissable presence in defence. His performances against Shillong and NEROCA are a testament to Alejandro Menedez’s thought process, trusting a young core of players to deliver the goods.
Lalramchullova was solid and put in stellar efforts defensively in both games for EB. He was rewarded with a clean-sheet against NEROCA. His role is very crucial for East Bengal's title push and he will be looking to continue his fine performances for the Kolkata side
Centre-Back – Muhammed Hamad (Real Kashmir)
The youngster from Kashmir had a very promising debut in the I-League. The 22-year-old who hails from Srinagar was a part of the team that won the I-League 2nd Division last season and has carried on the stellar form into the I-League.
He put in a coordinated effort along with his other defenders to prevent Minerva Punjab from registering a goal and got a deserved clean-sheet for his lively performance.
Centre-Back – Gaurav Bora (Chennai City)
Chennai City’s attack has received a lot of plaudits for their team’s good start to the season. However, their free-flowing attack means that the defenders have had to put in solid performances to prevent opposition forays. A key figure leading their defence is Gaurav Bora.
The youngster put forth a mature and decisive effort as he led the backline against opposition counter-attacks. With several key matches coming up, Chennai will need the young lad to be at his best to shutdown opposition attacks.
Left-Back – Manoj Mohammed (East Bengal)
The East Bengal academy graduate was promoted to the senior side this season before the start of the Calcutta Football League. The full-back was influential on both sides of the field for the Red and Gold in the match against NEROCA FC.
The 19-year-old lad produced a stunning goal-line save to deny NEROCA an equalizer in the first half. Earlier, his throw-in created havoc in the opposition backline allowing striker Esqueda to pounce and open the scoring. He justified his inclusion in the starting lineup with another solid defensive effort against Shillong Lajong.
Right Midfielder – Jesuraj Romario (Chennai City)
To say that Jesuraj had a great season opener against Indian Arrows would be an understatement. The 22-year-old was all over the pitch, using his pace and skill to get past players. He was tirelessly making runs throughout the game and the winger finally got a deserved goal in the 76th minute, when he slotted in a cross from Sandro.
Central Midfielder – Arjun Jayaraj (Gokulam Kerala)
Gokulam Kerala registered two draws in their first two games. If any aspect of their performances stoodout, it was Arjun Jayaraj. The local lad wowed supporters in the first game against Mohun Bagan, producing a charismatic display.
The midfielder was a pivotal figure during the game and impressed everyone with his creativity. He scored the equalizer and was the Hero of the Match. The Kerala lad followed that performance up with a great effort against NEROCA. His exquisite touch and ability to glide past opposition players will be crucial to Gokulam’s season.
Central Midfielder – Sourav Das (Mohun Bagan)
In a side that attacks mainly through the wings, a solid central midfielder is essential for defensive organisation. Sourav Das put his stamp on that role with a standout performance against Gokulam in the season opener for Mohun Bagan. The energetic lad carried on from where he left off in the Calcutta Football League with a praiseworthy effort.
Against Aizawl, he was introduced after the Mariners had gone behind and inspired his team, with Bagan scoring two goals to take the lead. Although, the match ended in a draw, Das was the key ingredient to the Kolkata side’s dominance at both ends.
Left Midfielder – Israil Gurung (Churchill Brothers)
Israil Gurung was not in the squad for the first game for the Red Machines against Minerva Punjab. The winger was put in the starting lineup for the next game and he delivered brilliantly. The 29-year-old was present to slot the ball into the net after Chennai City keeper Kabir spilt a cross. His experience was also on display several times during the course of this match.
Striker – Mahesh Naorem Singh (Shillong Lajong)
Two touches to set up and then a belter of a curler that gave Aizawl goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh no chance. Naorem Mahesh Singh announced himself to the I-League fans in style. The young forward was a constant threat for Lajong and the Aizawl defence had a hard time dealing with him.
Naorem capped off an amazing display by grabbing another goal in the second half. He displayed great anticipation and determination to slot a terrific cross from Rakesh Pradhan into the net. His two goals proved crucial as Lajong edged out Aizawl 2-1. The striker also put in a commendable effort in his side’s loss against East Bengal. The youngster’s combination and chemistry with Lajong’s main man Samuel Lalmuanpuia will be vital for the Meghalayan side.
Striker – Jobby Justin (East Bengal)
The Kerala striker was his menacing best against Shillong Lajong for EB. The 24-year-old managed to exploit the inexperience in the Shillong side and managed to exert his influence and help his side gain three points.
The striker scored his first when he headed a Lalrindika Ralte free-kick into the bottom corner. He then doubled his and Est Bengal’s tally with a volley. Adjudged the Hero of the Match, Justin was tenacious and aggressive throughout the match and repaid Menendez’s faith in him.
Published: Tue Nov 06, 2018 05:12 PM IST