Despite a mass boycott the tournament saw some delightful performances.
In spite of all the controversy surrounding it with the I-league teams’ pullout, the Super Cup did have its moments, producing some really entertaining bouts. Over the course of two weeks, some thrilling high-scoring matches took place, making for an entertaining cup competition. FC Goa lifted the trophy to top off their dominant campaign on a high, but the competition served its share of surprises with some results throughout its course.
Similarly, some players also surprised with their fantastic performances in it. While some known top stars shined through, some talented individuals who might’ve been underwhelming in the league phase rose up under this different format. So as the Super Cup has drawn to a close, we look at the team of the tournament.
Goalkeeper: Karanjit Singh(Chennaiyin FC)
After a dismal Indian Super League campaign, the experienced custodian proved his mettle with some solid performances in the Hero Cup. He only conceded only three goals from four games, keeping two clean-sheets against Mumbai City FC and ATK. Singh maintained his commanding demeanour in between the posts throughout the tournament while giving some bright performances against the difficult opposition Chennaiyin had to grind through.
He was especially impressive in the Super Cup final, when he kept the Marina Machans alive by denying Coro and co with some terrific stops. Karanjit’s brilliant shot-saving ability helped his side keep a mean defensive record in the tournament, as the Marina Machans will be hoping he retains his impressive form at the AFC Cup as well.
Right-Back: Seriton Fernandes(FC Goa)
Seriton retained his impressive form into the Super Cup and after falling short in the ISL final, he seemed determined to redeem his side’s failures. The industrial right-back helped them keep two clean-sheets in dominant fashion, while he was rarely outsmarted by a winger on the right. Seriton was also an influential figure going forward, scoring a stunning goal against Jamshedpur FC to reward his persistence going forward.
Seriton also put on some dominant displays of his own, especially against Indian Arrows and Chennai City, keeping Nestor Gordillo quiet in the semi-finals. Fernandes’ hard-work is finally paying off for the Gaurs, as his inspired performances in the Super Cup showcase how he’s developing into a complete defender.
Super Cup Team of the Tournament 2019
Center-Back: John Johnson(ATK)
Regaining his strong form from the ISL campaign, Johnson gave some commendable performances for ATK at the heart of their defence. He did a superb job at keeping the dangerous Real Kashmir at bay, countering their physicality and old-school style perfectly to help ATK get a dominant victory. While he would see his side concede quite a few goals throughout the tournament, Johnson often saved them from worsening their situation.
Key tackles, clearances and knowledge of being at the right place at the right time allowed the English center-back to dominate the strikers. He made things really difficult for the opponents who tried to move through the middle and his bright showing should further convince ATK to rely upon his services next season.
Center-Back: Mourtada Fall(FC Goa)
The Senegalese giant brought on his commanding form into the Super Cup, retaining his dominant presence in the Gaurs defence. Fall did a great job in keeping out some top strikers throughout the tournament, dealing with Pedro Manzi and Jeje Lalpekhlua especially well. Like he often did in the ISL, Fall made important clearances in almost every game to thwart away danger from the final third.
He also made some timely tackles and interceptions to win possession and help the Gaurs retain their possession-based style. While he couldn’t get a goal in the Super Cup, Fall’s commendable work in keeping out goals was finally rewarded when he got to lift silverware for the first time with FC Goa.
Left-Back: Ajithkumar Kamaraj(Chennai City FC)
One of the underrated gems of Chennai City’s dream I-League campaign, Ajithkumar proved why Akbar Nawas relies upon him so highly with some glittering performances. The young left-back showcased unlimited energy in marauding forward with every chance possible to get the Lions playing the kind of thrilling, attacking football they made famous in the I-League. However, more importantly, he was a reliable figure when defending and neutralized the threat of some high-profile wingers at that.
The way he dealt with Udanta Singh against Bengaluru FC, containing his pace and finding a solution to his trickery was commendable. Kamaraj was almost a symbol of Chennai’s fearless, never-say-die attitude and turned many eyes onto himself with some really spirited performances to take his side far forward in the Super Cup.
Defensive-Midfielder: Dhanpal Ganesh(Chennaiyin FC)
It’s almost telling how Chennaiyin FC’s downfall in the ISL coincided with a time when Dhanpal Ganesh was on the sidelines. A prime reason for their 2nd ISL victory last year, Ganesh picked up from where he left off in the Super Cup. He was an assuring figure lying deep in midfield, picking up proper passes and helping Chennaiyin keep the oppositions from easily penetrating into the box.
Ganesh often made crucial tackles and clearances to thwart off danger, while also falling back to help his defenders whenever he could. It’s because of his effectiveness that the Marina Machans went so far and were a stubborn team to break down. Ganesh’ superb performances proved why he’s so important to Chennaiyin FC, as he brought heart and steel to take far ahead in the Super Cup.
Right-Wing: CK Vineeth(Chennaiyin FC)
The loanee from Kerala Blasters is quickly making a big case for the Marina Machans to make his deal permanent after some sublime performances in the Super Cup. Vineeth looked at ease in a more encouraging attacking role, which allowed him to penetrate into the box easily and threaten with his clinical nature. He ended up bamboozling many defenders with his impressive movement and scored two goals to reiterate his reputation as a deadly goal-scorer.
Vineeth showed much more urgency to score goals or help to set them up in the Super Cup than he did in the ISL and proved to have immersed into Chennaiyin FC’s system really well. His impressive goals against Mumbai City FC and ATK guided the Marina Machans to victory and gain some much-needed momentum before the AFC Cup matches.
Attacking-Midfield: Manuel Lanzarote(ATK)
What he was supposed to do in the ISL, Lanzarote decided to showcase in the Super Cup. With the brilliant Edu Garcia at his side, the ATK captain looked to be playing without pressure and could move forward more often due to support by his side. Lanzarote used his creativity and experience to cause real problems in the final third, exerting much more influence over ATK’s attacks.
The Spaniard scored two goals and assisted two, but his incredible strike against Real Kashmir was one for the ages. Lanzarote showed better movement and flow in his game, while he delivered defence-splitting passes more often to help his side showcase their attacking vigour. He’ll hope to regain similar form in the ISL next season and take the Kolkata sides to bigger and better things.
Left-Wing: Brandon Fernandes(FC Goa)
Brandon seemingly picked up his game after the ISL finals disappointment and played with a purpose throughout the Super Cup. At a time when many thought the Gaurs would decrease the intensity in their game, Brandon kept the fire alive in attack with his incisive movement and terrific work in the final third. It all started for him after he came on against Indian Arrows and his inviting cross was put into his own net by Indian Arrows’ Deepak Tangri.
The super-sub performance gave Brandon confidence to soar forward, as he did in the next three games. The left-winger was a menace with his crossing and trickery, while he proved his goal-scoring ability by netting in all three wins. He ended the tournament with three impressive goals and an assist, having produced some scintillating attacking football and deservedly been on the winning side in the end.
Striker: Pedro Manzi(Chennai City FC)
Coming into the tournament as the joint golden-boot winner of the I-League season, Chennai City captain Pedro Manzi had a lot to prove. So he did, showcasing that be it an I-League team or an ISL giant, he can blast goals against just about anybody in Indian Football. Manzi started his Super Cup in quite emphatic fashion, scoring yet another hattrick to floor FC Pune City and sound his side’s ambitions in winning the title.
However, Manzi’s deft finishing would not only haunt the Stallions but later on ISL champions Bengaluru FC as well. In a clash of champions, Manzi stood tall to score a stunning goal, helping his side record an infamous win. While their dream run might’ve ended in the semi-finals, Manzi’s brilliant work up-front proved why Chennai City should be blessed to have a top-quality foreigner like him.
Striker: Ferran Corominas(FC Goa)
After failing to inspire his side into winning the ISL, the FC Goa hitman seemed to be running on fumes in the Super Cup. Coro was at his ruthless best in the Gaurs attack, moving forward with extra vigour and leaving defenders for dead with his unpredictability. What started as their tournament’s first goal in a penalty, Coro would soon increase his tally into topping another goal-scoring chart.
He netted in each and every game in the Super Cup, mixing steely nerves with flair when it comes to penalties, while also scoring some other beautiful goals. He scored five goals in four games, working together with his talented attack to cause disasters for the oppositions defenders. It was only fitting he’d win some gold after such an inspired season, as the Super Cup win will be a stepping stone for bigger things for Coro and co.