The likes of William Opoku and Alfred Jaryan put in poor displays for their respective outfits.
The I-League has always been a breeding ground for underdogs beating all odds on their way to glory. The league has seen some of the most unprecedented stories in Indian football from the most remote corners of the country. If Aizawl FC’s story was a fairytale and Minerva Punjab’s win was made up of sheer determination, then Chennai City’s win this season was based on shrewd planning and perfect execution.
The season saw a lot of ups and downs for various teams and gave us a lot of future prospects, who could ply their trade in the top teams of the country. However, there were also teams who got it all wrong and suffered throughout the season.
5. Guilherme De Castro (Gokulam Kerala FC)
Gokulam Kerala roped in De Castro with the intention of partnering him with Mudde Musa in midfield, to orchestrate the play for the Malabarians. They had high hopes from the Brazilian midfielder to be the workhorse in the middle of the park.
However the 26-year old could not live up to the expectations and hardly had any impact on Gokulam’s play. Castro was out of ideas on the pitch and lost possession too many times. If that was not enough, the Brazilian also got suspended for a year by the AIFF Disciplinary Committee, after his spat with a referee regarding his sending off against Shillong Lajong.
4. Kingsley Obunemme (Mohun Bagan)
Kingsley has been a very dependable figure in defence over the years. But, this campaign the 27-year-old was a shadow of himself. Trusted with the armband, the Mariners had high hopes from their leader. However, Kingsley did not live up to a single expectation. The former Aizawl man was poor with his game-reading throughout the season, one of the areas of his expertise.
The Nigerian defender was sent off in the first Kolkata Derby, turning the game on its head and was synonymous with rash tackles and indecisiveness at the back.
3. Alfred Jaryan (Aizawl FC)
Jaryan notched only two assists this season
He was Aizawl’s midfield general and one of the main orchestrators of the team’s fairytale journey to the league title some years ago. But this season, Jaryan was below-par for the Reds. The Liberian is known for his physical prowess and defensive capabilities. However, this was a campaign to forget for both club and player.
With the team plagued by injuries to crucial players all season, Jaryan was forced to play in defence where he evidently struggled. The midfielder’s services upfront went missing, as he could only notch up two assists throughout the season.
2. Varney Kallon (NEROCA FC)
The Liberia defender was a rock at the back for NEROCA last season. He was one of the most prominent figures for the Manipuri outfit and has been with the club since their second division days. It can be the story of how the mighty have fallen, as after an exceptional debut top flight season, NEROCA stumbled this time around, finishing sixth. Similarly, from being the best defender in the league last season, Kallon was quite underwhelming this time around.
He was known for his decisiveness and physical stature in the heart of NEROCA’s defence, but this campauign he has been sloppy, making rash challenges more often than not.
1. William Opoku (Minerva Punjab)
Opoku’s poor displays this season led the Minerva to send him to Ozone FC in the second division
Wiliam Opoku was one of the vital cogs in Minerva Punjab’s triumph to the I-League title last season. The versatile midfielder had a great partnership with Chencho Gyletshen, as the club from Punjab scripted history. However, Chencho left for greener pastures and Opoku was never the same thereafter.
Persistent injury problems affected his game as the Ghanaian lost his touch completely. Opoku, who was one of the best players last season was released by Minerva for his lackadaisical performances and fitness issues. The 21-year-old could only manage two goals this campaign for the Warriors, currently plying his trade for Ozone FC in the second division.