ISL Indian TOTW 5: Rising stars Soosairaj and Thatal prove their mettle on big stage
Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar
This week's lineup features many other household names who have been constant performers in the league over the years.
The Indian Super League produced a few twists and turns in what was a high-scoring week of football, one in which the Indian players made notable contributions. There was quite a lot of movement in the table, with NorthEast United marching their way into the top spot once again. Jamshedpur FC also turned up the heat in the Furnace, while Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters remained undefeated. Here’s Khel Now’s ISL Team of the Week.
Goalkeeper: Pawan Kumar (NorthEast United)
Filling in for the suspended T.P. Rehenesh once again, Pawan Kumar did really well to earn a clean-sheet for himself in the capital. While the former Bengaluru keeper was mostly untested by a frail Delhi Dynamos side, he looked extremely concentrated throughout the game. He was alert whenever the ball made its way into his penalty area and did not let Delhi’s crosses faze him at all. Made an impressive save to deny the hosts a chance at getting into the game and showed impressive confidence.
Right-Back: Rahul Bheke (Bengaluru FC)
Rahul Bheke seems to be slowly finding back his terrific form from last season and put in a superb shift at the Salt Lake Stadium to deny ATK. Bheke was terrific on the right-hand side, keeping the dangerous Balwant Singh quiet throughout the game. He also moved forward with intent and got in a few promising areas, but it was his defensive work which shone through.
He later moved to the left-back position and neutralized Komal Thatal and Jayesh Rane’s threat as well. He made five tackles and six clearances in the game and had a passing accuracy of 84%.
Indian Super League Team of the Week f5
Center-Back: Pratik Chowdhary (Jamshedpur FC)
After Jamshedpur disappointingly let slip a two-goal lead to draw against Kerala Blasters, Pratik Chowdhary was brought in to bring some stability to their defence. Chowdhary had a big task ahead of him against the dangerous FC Goa, who had scored the most goals in the league prior to the match.
However, he did a great job in neutralizing the threat of Miguel Fernandez and kept him in check throughout the game. Chowdhary made a few crucial interceptions and his positioning was really good, which allowed the hosts to maintain a very good defensive line and contain the dangerous Goa attack.
Center-Back: Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters)
Sandesh Jhingan and Kerala Blasters had a tough time at the Furnace, but managed to earn a valuable point after a terrific comeback in the second half. Jhingan was really good almost throughout the match, as he got the better of the veteran Tim Cahill on most occasions.
He was let down by his inexperienced defenders a bit, but rallied his troops forward to mount a comeback. The Blasters captain made three tackles and five clearances and often bailed his side out of trouble on the night.
Left-Back: Robert Lalthlamuana (NorthEast United)
Robert Lalthlamuana played a crucial role in keeping Delhi quiet throughout his tenure, as he was alert defensively and kept the dangerous Nandhakumar Sekar in check. He put in a hard-working performance for the Highlanders and worked tirelessly on his side to make sure the hosts didn’t get a sniff at goal.
Robert made six tackles in the game and five clearances as well, often stealing the ball away from Delhi and allowing his side to regain possession. He might’ve been subbed off before the hour mark, but put in a commendable performance which must’ve impressed his coach.
Right Central Midfield: Harmanjot Khabra (Bengaluru FC)
Harmonjot Khabra is proving to be Bengaluru’s ace in the hole this season, with his versatility and immense work-rate making him an asset for the side. Khabra pulled off another compelling display against ATK, as he could be seen all over the pitch trying to win the ball and get things moving for the Blues.
Khabra had a terrific pass accuracy of 79% from 57 attempted passes, while he also made five tackles and two crucial interceptions in midfield. The former East Bengal man also made a vital block off Pronay Halder’s shot, which could’ve equalized the game and denied his side three points.
Central Midfield: Rowllin Borges (NorthEast United)
NorthEast United have found their midfield general in Rowllin Borges this season, as the composed midfielder is having an excellent outing for the Highlanders this time around. Borges put in another effective performance against the Dynamos, helping dominate the midfield for his side once again.
He had a great passing accuracy of 83% from 54 attempted passes and pulled the strings in midfield for the Highlanders. Borges also put in a compelling defensive showcase, making five tackles and a few clearances to contain Delhi’s threat and make sure that NorthEast breezed to victory in the capital.
Left Central Midfield: Jackichand Singh (FC Goa)
Jackichand Singh continued his impressive start to the season with FC Goa by playing a big part in their thrilling win over FC Pune City at the weekend. Jacki started the game amazingly, linking with his attackers really well and moving dangerously in the final third. He scored the third goal for Goa, when he showed smart movement and got on the end of the move to calmly put the ball into an empty net.
He continued to test Pune City’s resolve and got himself in many promising situations, even striking two more shots on target which were saved.
Right-Wing: Komal Thatal (ATK)
After continuing to impress for weeks, Komal Thatal finally channelled his best against Bengaluru and terrorized last season’s finalists throughout the match. The young winger was a marvel on his wing, moving with purpose and sparking many attacks for ATK. However, he produced a moment of utter brilliance when he got behind Nishu Kumar and hit a sweet left-foot shot which was too good for even Gurpreet Sandhu to save.
Thatal continued to try and create more goals for ATK and took a few more swipes at goal. This goal has done a lot of good for his confidence.
Left-Wing: Michael Soosairaj (Jamshedpur FC)
Michael Soosairaj properly introduced himself to the ISL with a string of excellent performances for Jamshedpur FC this week, as he made the Furnace his own favourite hunting ground. Soosairaj looked dangerous right from the beginning against Kerala Blasters and scored a beautiful curling effort to get his first ISL goal.
He put on an even better showing against Goa a few days later, absolutely terrorizing their defence with his movement and trickery. Soosairaj's first against Goa was a clever finish from close range, but the amazing pace he showed to go past Seriton and complete his brace was excellent.
Striker: Seminlen Doungel (Kerala Blasters)
While he didn’t start the game against Jamshedpur, Seminlen Doungel acted as Kerala’s saviour earlier this week and put on an amazing “super-sub” performance. Doungel’s introduction lit up things in the attacking department for the Blasters, as he moved with intent in the final third.
He physically ousted his opponent before sending in a terrific left-foot cross to assist Stojanovic’s goal. Doungel then showed amazing persistence and trickery to wheeze into the box and lay it up for CK Vineeth to score the equalizer for his side.