ISL Indian TOTW 1: Debutant Rana Gharami make headlines
Written by: Waseem Zaidi
The first set of matches has revealed the improved quality that the Indian players have brought to the league.
The Indian Super League 2018-19 started on a fantastic note, to say the least. After months of strategy and planning, the teams have looked strong and the last set of fixtures have been evidence of their particular traits. Along with overseas stars, the domestic talents have been firing on all cylinders, making the cash-rich league a treat to sore eyes.
The first week of the ISL 2018 saw the Indian contingent coming to the fore and matching the foreign talents shoulder to shoulder, and in some cases, even outclassing them.
Therefore we take a look at some of the best Indian performers in our Team of the Week in the ISL's first round of matches.
Subhasish Roy Chowdhury (Jamshedpur FC)
Subhasish may have made a couple of mistakes in Jamshedpur FC’s victory over a lacklustre Mumbai City, however, his presence under the bar gave the defence the much-needed confidence. A well-deserved clean sheet was a perfect way to show his class to the league for the shot-stopper, especially away from home.
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He was all happy before starting for Jamshedpur FC
The keeper from Kolkata may make it tough for Subrata Paul to replace him once the veteran is available for selection. As for now, Jamshedpur FC looks secure at the back.
Right back: Mohammad Rakip (Kerala Blasters)
The 18-year-old youngster from Manipur was one of the star performers in the defence for Kerala Blasters when they met ATK in the opener. Despite being under pressure on occasions, he performed his defensive duties efficiently.
A clean sheet was well-deserved for Rakip. Furthermore, his movement on the right flank will surely cause trouble to the opposition throughout the campaign. Playing under the leadership of Sandesh Jhingan has helped the youngster to shine even more.
Indian Super League Team of the Week 1
Center Backs: Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters)
His towering presence at the back and aggressive defending made him stand out as arguably the best player on the field. ATK attackers failed to penetrate the solid defence set-up by the Southerners.
Jhingan was also comfortable on the ball and showcased decent distribution from the back. The captain led by example and proved to be a great threat from set-pieces as well, with one of his headers almost finding the back of the net.
Rana Gharami (Delhi Dynamos)
The new recruit from Mohun Bagan proved to be an excellent signing for the Delhi Dynamos. Not only did he command his position well, but also marked his debut with a long-ranged strike that is surely going to be a goal-of-the-season contender
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The ISL debutant scored a wonder
Unfortunately for the Delhi-side, the match ended on even terms. However, Rana’s performance would have impressed the new gaffer at the club, Josep Gombau.
Interestingly, the 27-year-old defender is the first Indian to have scored in this edition of ISL as well.
Left back: Narayan Das (Delhi Dynamos)
Another new recruit that shined on his debut for the capital club was the marauding left-back, Narayan Das. He was excellent in the wings and rarely was caught out of his position. On top of that, his darting runs down the flank proved to be a nuisance for FC Pune City.
The 25-year-old showed maturity in defence and composure on the ball. Narayan adds a crucial element to a Dynamos team going forward with his accuracy while crossing in the box. If Delhi is to qualify for the playoffs this term, then Das will surely play a big role.
Central midfielders: Germanpreet Singh (Chennaiyin FC)
Despite the defeat for Chennaiyin FC in a closely fought match against Bengaluru FC, there was a positive takeaway in the performance put in by Germanpreet Singh. His industry in the centre of the midfield impressed fans and the coach alike.
He also came close to opening the scoring for the defending champions, but was undone by a misplaced pass by Jeje. The 22-year-old could prove to be an emerging player of the year if he consistently performs at this level.
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Lenny Rodrigues (FC Goa)
He was excellent for FC Goa on a night where the draw was a fair result for both sides. Playing away to Northeast United FC, Lenny looked at home in the central midfield. His composure on the ball and vision caused NEUFC a lot of difficulties.
His penetrating through-balls caught the opposition on their heels time after time. Lenny tracked back and provided much-needed cover to the defensive backline as well.
If the first game is any indication, then the playmaker from Goa could be central to FC Goa’s fortunes in this campaign.
Central attacking-midfield: Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Jamshedpur FC)
Jerry was crucial for Jamshedpur FC in their 2-0 away victory at Mumbai City. He was quite rightly one of the best Indian players on the night. His flexibility with his positioning saw him in possession of the ball in multiple scoring opportunities.
The 21-year old was a constant source of danger for the hosts, and also performed his defensive duties whenever required. An overall decent outing for the young talent.
Right-wing: Jackichand Singh (FC Goa)
In a fixture where FC Goa dropped two points from a winning position, their attacking winger Jackichand Singh was the silver lining. He looked in good form in pre-season as well and carried that hot streak in the first ISL fixture for his team. He dominated the right flank and was unplayable on many occasions.
He will be a threat to the full backs of any opposition that he comes up against owing to his pace and technical quality. It remains to be seen although, the seriousness of the injury he suffered that saw the winger being stretchered off.
Left wing: Halicharan Narzary (Kerala Blasters)
The third Kerala Blasters player to feature in the team of the week is, Halicharan Narzary. The winger was a threat throughout the game and was tough to contain. His trickery and electrifying pace allowed him to exploit the empty spaces behind the ATK defensive line.
Another aspect where Narzary was excellent was his vision and accurate crossing. As a result, he contributed with an assist for the second goal, scored by Stojanovic. Kerala Blasters are well sorted on the left flank for the foreseeable future.
Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)
Bengaluru FC captain, Sunil Chhetri is always under massive expectations and rarely disappoints. He may have failed to feature on the scorecard against a gritty Chennaiyin FC team, but was vital to his team's overall performance nevertheless.
Indian senior national team captain has the knack of motivating fellow players and leading by example, a trait that was very influential in Bengaluru FCs victory over Chennaiyin FC. It is only a matter of time when Chhetri starts scoring for the Bengaluru outfit and be in the league of top scorers.