The penultimate week of the 2020-21 Indian Super League - and we are still on the hunt for two of the four finalists, that’s the competitiveness the league brings with it. With an action-packed week passing by, let us have a look at the players that have hogged the limelight with their display.
Bipin Singh (Mumbai City FC)
By far the easiest pick of the week, with Bipin Singh reaching new heights in the Indian Super League, having scored a hat-trick during their thumping 6-1 win over Odisha FC earlier this week. Having already proved his worth in Sergio Lobera’s setup, the winger is in a conquest to take his game to the next level. Keeping up with the pace of a star-studded attacking line-up - Adam le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Cy Goddard and the charismatic Hugo Boumous demands an exceptional understanding of the game, which Bipin has developed with the backing of Islanders' Spanish tactician. The hat-trick was the fruit of all the hard-work the Manipuri has put in throughout the season. With the all-important match against ATK-Mohun Bagan round the corner, scoring three goals couldn't have come at a better time.
VP Suhair (Northeast United FC)
VP Suhair is not a footballer in the mould of other Indian wingers like Udanta Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte or even Bipin Singh for instance. But his nimble football and subtle trickery are very effective, especially with no one seeing him coming. The fact that he’s played 16 matches for Mohun Bagan in their I-League winning campaign speaks volumes of his capabilities. Even during the match against SC East Bengal, when the match was evenly poised following the half-time break, Suhair made use of the slightest of mistakes from SC East Bengal out of nowhere. It took a touch and well-placed left-footer to give ‘Highlanders’ the lead and also change the whims of the game towards their favour. It was the turning point of the game without a doubt, helping them gain a foothold in the game and eventually helped them earn three valuable points, with the final scores reading 2-1 in favour of Northeast United FC.
Aitor Monroy (Jamshedpur FC)
The Spanish playmaker has been a silent assassin throughout the season, while Jamshedpur FC’s lacklustre outing in the 2020-21 ISL meant he was overshadowed anyways. But, Aitor Monroy once again proved his prowess, just that his hard-work reaped results with him assisting in two of Jamshedpur FC’s three goals against Bengaluru FC, which helped them end the season on a high. Equally efficient in negating opponents’ attacks makes him an all-round player, having made seven tackles during the same game, along with two clearances and similar number of interceptions. The Spanish ended the 2020-21 ISL with 785 passes to his mane with an average of 41.32 per game, with an accuracy rate of 64.45%. Overall, his tally of 111 tackles is the second-highest this season by any player, with only Mumbai City FC’s Ahmed Jahough having better statistics. With Owen Coyle keen on keeping his team intact, we are expecting some sensational football from Aitor in the next season too.
Ahmed Jahouh (Mumbai City FC)
In a star-studded Mumbai City FC line-up, we often laud the efforts of players like Hugo Boumous, Bartholomew Ogbeche or Adam le Fondre, but we tend to forget the one who keeps the midfield in shape - Ahmed Jahouh - a star himself. That he has completed more than 1500 passes this season is proof of the hard work he’s put in to maintain the fluidity in the playmaking zone. Down by a goal in the ninth minute of the game, someone had to anchor the comeback and who better than the Moroccan to take the responsibility? Stitching 146 passes throughout the game, he was instrumental in Mumbai City FC’s comeback where the team netted six goals to pin Odisha FC down to the mat. Ahmed Jahouh has 136 tackles to his name this season - most by any player. We may remember him for the red cards he conceded, or the penalty he missed the other day, but Ahmed Jahouh is much more than what meets the eye.
Redeem Tlang (FC Goa)
Not seen much of this guy throughout the league, but he sure made it count when his team needed him the most. The speedy winger was imported midway through the league from Northeast United - a club where he gained prominence. While it is always difficult to acclimatize with a new team, the Shillong-based footballer has made it look like a very smooth transition. Although Igor Angulo Angulo took the lead in the 20th minute, the street smart move from Redeem Tlang, which eventually resulted in the second goal took the game away from Bengaluru FC and furthered FC Goa’s claim for a top-four finish in the ongoing season of the Indian Super League. In a league such as this, where the fate of a team heavily depends on the quality of Indian players, Tlang will be an asset to Juan Ferrando’s setup for the remainder of the season.