ISL has definitely had a major upgrade this season with the viewers seeing more teamwork and fluent passing play than ever. However, there are also players capable of influencing the game, and sometimes outcomes, singlehandedly and we bring the best eleven of that lot from game phase 2 so far.
Francisco Dorronsoro – Though Delhi Dynamos have played only three games in the league’s second phase so far, winning none, drawing two, and conceding three goals, Franciso Dorronsoro has only been picked for his performance against Chennaiyin FC in their last match. The Spaniard was impenetrable making as many as seven saves throughout the match. In the second half, the indomitable custodian became so frustrating that John Gregory had turned towards the camera and signalled three stating that CFC should have been up by three goals if not for him. ISL is still in its nascent stages with standard goalkeeping a very distant
John Johnson - ATK
Pritam Kotal - Another one of those examples where the player has surpassed his team’s below-par performance by his individual displays. The skipper of the side, Kotal has easily been Delhi’s livewire in the season so far, leaving one to wonder how big a difference could one full-back actually make in a team. Relentless in his approach and always looking for the kill, the 25-year-old left back has been seen playing in the central midfield and also on the left back. He has one goal and one assist so far, and if Delhi
Mourtada Fall - For Goa’s footballing blueprint, someone like Mourtada Fall would be considered a liability. The
Edu Bedia - When he had come to Goa from Real Zaragoza last season, he had looked like a polished product suited for the league who could dribble past defenders, find the key passes and become the quintessential Spanish playmaker that ISL was yet to see. However, Bedia mellowed down after some impressive displays and with Manuel Lanzarote taking the playmaker’s role, he was pushed more to the deep midfield. This season, Bedia has both experience and chance to prove his mettle and he is doing exactly that. His performance against Mumbai City FC was complete as he pulled the strings beautifully with his world-class volley being the cherry on the cake.
Raphael Augusto - He has easily been the best midfielder any team has seen in the season so far. He is fast, he is strong, and he has all the creative attributes to be the attacking midfield role. With Gregory Nelson starting on the bench of late for the Marina Machans, CFC’s best or the only real source of goals is Augusto. Deft with both his feet, the Brazilian plays at the heart of the setup and if only he had got better forwards up front, Chennaiyin would have rightly started the campaign as the defending champions. Against the Dynamos, Augusto was a master class with three shots on target, creating two chances, perfecting seven tackles and also having six interceptions. However, his display against ATK was marred with unnecessary fouls.
Jackichand Singh - He was always meant to shine the brightest in the sky of Indian football. And although his career took a terrible nosedive in the middle where he actually had the chance to rise above all, it seems that the time is now, under Lobera. His pace on the ball and finishing, which had made him a household sensation once upon a time, seems to have been returning gradually and it is only because of Goa’s style of play. Pushing club regular Mandar Rao Desai to the full-back position, Jackie has been coordinating well with Corominas and Bedia on the left and even managed to score against Mumbai City FC last game.
Manuel Lanzarote - ATK
Bartholomew Ogbeche - The Nigerian forward has announced his arrival and how! ISL saw two brilliant strikers emerging last season – Ferran Corominas and Miku – and it looks like the crowd would be chanting another name this time, Bartholomew Ogbeche. Scoring five goals in four matches, the striker not only leads the race for the golden boot but is also the heartbeat for the Highlanders who are running high in confidence. However, Ogbeche would be equally grateful to Eelco Schattorie, who is playing him as a proper striker to finishing things off and not as a false no.9, despite his physical attributes for the latter’s role.
Miku - Bengaluru FC
Sunil Chhetri - The skipper of the side, Chhettri is what keeps Bengaluru together. Apart from being the biggest crowd puller for the club, it is also his quality and leadership that makes him the livewire in the side. Otherwise, how would you explain players like Erik Paartalu and Miku looking up to the Indian skipper for inspiration? Easily the best striker the nation has ever produced, Chhetri can score from the unlikeliest of chances and never seems to be off-form. He has scored three goals in three matches taking his ISL tally to 20 from 36 games in total. While he has to thank Miku immensely for drawing away defenders from the left flank, where Chhetri plies his inverted forward role, his finishing abilities are unquestionable.
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