The Chennai man won Best Midfielder while the Cameroonian took home the Golden Boot for a second season running.
Minerva Punjab had a fairy-tale journey this season. Since the first day, they were right after the trophy, and with the help of consistency and determination, they made their dream come true, defying all odds. In a glittering ceremony held in a Chandigarh hotel on Thursday, the winners were presented with the I-League trophy, and the individual awards were also distributed.
AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das, congratulated Minerva for their achievement. He said, “Well played Minerva Punjab FC, the deserving champions of the Hero I-League. The manner in which you sealed it is in itself a story. I trust the victory will encourage kids to follow and play the sport more.”
I-League’s CEO Sundhar Dhar too appreciated their efforts, saying, “Minerva Punjab FC’s win is a landmark for Indian Football, let alone the club itself. Their success rightly showed that proper planning and investment in youth development can help a club reach the summit.”
Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan shot-stopper, Shilton Paul, who had been fantastic this season, won the ‘Best Goalkeeper’ award. Despite Chennai City having a woeful season this time, their captain, Michael Soosairaj was in tremendous form throughout. Indian Super League outfit, Jamshedpur FC recently signed this player in a massive deal recently. Adding to that, this Tamilnadu-born player has managed to win the “Best Midfielder” award this season.
Elsewhere, Bhutanese attacker, Chencho Gyeltshen, known as ‘Ronaldo of Bhutan, played a massive role throughout their journey. Watching him play was always a treat for the fans and his performance in the attacking third helped Minerva outclass tenacious defenses. For that, the Bhutanese young sensation won the ‘Best Forward’ award. Along with this, he also became the ‘Hero of the League’
The Mariners were unable to clinch the title this time. However, their star attacker, Dipanda Dicka, who scored 13 goals this season, bagged the ‘Golden Boot’ award.
Shillong Lajong have always known as India’s footballing talent hub. The club have been able to contribute to the nation with many talented youngsters.This edition of the I-League was no an exception to that. The Red’s Samuel Lalmuanpuia was in stellar form throughout the campaign and for that, the Mizoram midfielder grabbed the ‘Best Emerging Player’ award this season.
Also, let’s not forget that NEROCA FC’s journey was remarkable in itself. The team who got a promotion into the top-tier after winning the I-League Second Division last season, dazzled everyone with their performances this term in the top flight. They were along with Minerva Punjab in the title race until the final day. Their performances on the pitch have earned them many individual awards and coach Gift Raikhan bagged the ‘Syed Abdul Rahim Award for Best Coach’.
lASTLY, NEROCA’s defender, Varney K Kallon, who played an integral part in their defense this season won the ‘Jarnail Singh Award for Best Defender’. The Manipuri club also received the ‘Best Match Organizer’ award and also pocketed the ‘Fairplay award’