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Indian TOTW: Chhetri leads as mix of India regulars, pretenders, headline first week of action

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The foreigners may have dominated the goals but Indians, both experienced and youngsters, were unsung heroes for all the teams.

It was quite an eventful week in Indian Football, with the Indian Super League moving into overdrive after a breezy start to the season during the weekend and the I-League (ISL) also kicking off on Saturday. The ISL had many exciting games earlier this week, with the dominant Bengaluru FC sitting happily on top of the table after two crushing home wins to begin their life in the league with a bang.

There were some brilliant performances from the Indian players in every game with some hidden gems being unearthed early in the season. The I-League saw its latest season kick off when Minerva Punjab hosted giants Mohun Bagan, even managing to take a point off the Mariners. It was also an entertaining week of football for the Goa Professional League, which saw Vasco Sports Club roll over Churchill Brothers in an open encounter.

It's definitely good to be an Indian Football fan right now with all these leagues running simultaneously. Some Indian players produced amazing performances during the week and to celebrate these, for the first time ever in the history of Indian football, we bring you a combined Indian Football Team of the Week, featuring top two leagues and players from every nook and corner of the country.

Khel Now Indian Players team of the week

Goalkeeper: Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City FC)

Mumbai City FC showed a lot of faith in Amrinder Singh when they retained him before the ISL draft in the summer and he proved his ability earlier this week against FC Goa. Amrinder was brilliant for Alexander Guimaraes' side on the day, pulling off great saves one after the other to stop the dangerous FC Goa from scoring. He showcased his shot-stopping skills, making close to three solid saves before making an amazing close-range save to keep the match in Mumbai's hands. He recovered well from the horror outing against Bengaluru FC last week and looked confident and assertive on the day to earn three points for his team.

Amrinder brilliant save Vs FC Goa

Right-Back: Minesh Kunkolkar (Vasco Sports Club)

Minesh Kunkolkar might not be a name recognized by many, but he definitely delighted the fans of Vasco Sports Club when he played a big role in Vasco getting a dominating win over Churchill Brothers earlier this week. Kunkolkar was a menace down the right flank for Vasco, continuously charging forward to help his side threaten on the attack.

The 25-year-old was also great defensively, making three decisive tackles to clear dangerous attacks. But, his best moment arrived at around the halftime mark when his shot from 30 yards out was deflected into the net and put Vasco ahead. His side were inspired by that and went on to win the match 4-1. Kunkolker was a vital reason for their win.

Center-Back: Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters FC)

 

Jhingan played an important role to keep a clean sheet against Jamshedpur.

Sandesh Jhingan is really revelling in being the captain of Kerala Blasters this season in the ISL and is leading from the front in defense for them. Jhingan was quite good against ATK in the opening match and continued his brilliant work in defense against Jamshedpur FC in midweek. The 24-year-old centre-back has already formed a formidable partnership with Nemanja Lakic-Pesic and was extremely aggressive and strong on the day against Jamshedpur.

He completely shut out his former teammate Kervens Belfort also isolating Izu Akuza and often recovered well to make important tackles. Jhingan seemed really pumped up on the day and secured another clean-sheet for the Blasters, proving why he's rated as one of the best defenders in the country.

Center-Back: Anas Edathodika (Jamshedpur FC)

Anas Edathodika has quite a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season because of the hefty amount Jamshedpur FC paid to make him their first signing and because of how highly he's rated by many in the country. Anas was brilliant in the opening match for Jamshedpur to shut out NorthEast United FC and was up for the challenge against the dangerous attack of Kerala Blasters as well. Anas made sure that star-signing Iain Hume couldn't get a sniff on goal throughout the match, marking him well and showing extreme composure on the day.

He was relaxed on the ball and lead his defense really well, but was unlucky to be taken off because of an injury with around 20 minutes to play. Jamshedpur would hope it's nothing serious because Anas has been rock-solid for them so far.

Left-Back: Jerry Lalrinzuala (Chennaiyin FC)

Jerry Lalrinzuala is starting to assert himself as one of the best left-backs in the country right now, with the 19-year-old getting more impressive with each passing match in the ISL. Lalrinzuala was a constant threat for NorthEast with his attacking prowess in the game but also proved to be defensively sound as well.

He made great darting runs down the left and helped his team keep a high tempo in the game, looking energized throughout the match. He won the Emerging Player of the Match award after the game, the second one already for him in what's turning to be a great start for the youngster.

Defensive-Midfield: Dhanpal Ganesh (Chennaiyin FC)

The surprise package. He didn’t feature in the matchday squad for Chennaiyin FC’s first game and he was slotted into the lineup as a holding midfielder. Needless to say, he did his job to perfection. Dhanpal finished his game with 40 passes, 2 interceptions and 1 block. He was also one of the Man of the Match contenders on the night. Dhanpal assurance at back helped Raphael Augusto to roam ahead and scored those important goals for Chennai. 

Central Midfield: Rohit Kumar (FC Pune City)

Rohit Kumar is turning out to be one of the early finds of the ISL this season and he's proving to be a brilliant midfielder for FC Pune City. Kumar was pretty solid in midfield in Pune's loss to Delhi Dynamos in their season opener but really shone through in their second match against ATK. He bossed the midfield alongside Marcos Tebar as he showed immense composure on the ball and distributed it forward accurately.

 

Rohit Kumar goal against defending champion ATK

His defensive skills are strong as well, as he's very good at winning balls in midfield and sending them forward swiftly. But, he properly introduced himself by scoring the second goal for Pune, a powerful header which he lunged himself forward for. The 20-year-old was given the "Swift Moment of the Match" award and is turning a lot of eyes on him with his impressive displays so far.


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Right-Wing: Udanta Singh (Bengaluru FC)

Udanta Singh has embodied Bengaluru FC's fiery start to their journey in the ISL on the pitch, where he's been a constant menace for their opposition so far. Udanta was on fire for Bengaluru in their important match against the dangerous Delhi Dynamos, where he kept making dangerous runs on the right-flank and allowed the midfielders to find him in very good positions. He showed great tenacity on the counter-attack and was lighting quick, making Delhi huff and puff to get to him.

Udanta played a key role in their third goal when he went past the defenders and his powerful shot was parried away for Lenny Rodrigues to tuck in on the follow-up He was also awarded the "Fittest Player of the Match" for his electric performance which kept his team at the top of the ISL table.

Attacking-Midfield: Moinuddin Khan(Minerva Punjab FC)

Former AIFF academy product and India U-19 international Moinuddin Khan looked like a promising talent for Minerva Punjab last season, when he played five games for them and looked really good despite his young age. But he's looking to prove his ability this season and has already gotten off to a dream start, when he made his mark in the I-League opener against Mohun Bagan at the weekend.

Moinuddin Khan Goal against Mohun Bagan

Khan was kept on the bench for the match and was brought on by the coach in the second half. He turned out to be decisive for Punjab and scored a sweet volley in the dying minutes to stun the Mariners and earn a point for his side.

Left-Wing: Lallianzuala Chhangte(Delhi Dynamos FC)

Lallianzuala Chhangte Hero of the Match Vs FC Pune City

Lallianzuala Chhangte gave a star-making performance in the season opener for Delhi Dynamos earlier this week, when he wrecked havoc for the Lions against FC Pune City. Chhangte was extremely difficult to track because of his electric movement on the left-wing, where he often sped past the defenders and created many chances for the Lions.

He put in a delightful cross for Paulinho Dias' opener, before capitalizing on Pune's mistake and racing forward to dink one over the keeper and get a goal for himself. Chhangte showed unbelievable energy and clocked an amazing top speed of 35.8Km/h, falling slightly short of Gareth Bale's record of 36.9Km/h. He deservedly won the Hero of the Match award on the night as well.

Striker: Sunil Chhetri(Bengaluru FC)

 Chhetri Hero of the Match Vs Mumbai City FC

Sunil Chhetri has been the crown jewel of Indian Football for the past few years and he's proving why he's held in such high regard with some terrific performances off late. The Bengaluru FC captain has been leading from the front to make sure they adapt to the ISL like fish to water and after playing a major role in their debut win against former club Mumbai City FC, he continued his impressive form against Delhi Dynamos.

Chhetri looked hungry as ever to score throughout the match and despite going two goals up, he wasn't letting the tempo down. The striker played a great pass for Udanta to create the third goal, before making a delightful lofted pass for Miku to score the 4th goal in the dying minutes. Chhetri and Bengaluru have had an unbelievable week in the ISL with Captain Fantastic's amazing influence taking the newcomers to dreamland.

 

Published: Mon Nov 27, 2017 06:36 PM IST

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