ISL: Five local stars raising the bar for Indian football

ISL: Five local stars raising the bar for Indian football

As we enter the commercial end of the competition in ISL Season 9, now is the time to dissect and analyze the numbers and pick the creme de la creme. In this article, we take a look at the five Indian stars who have raised the bar for Indian football in 2022/23 ISL: #5 Anouar Ali (Goa) After an impressive 2021-22 ISL season, Anwar Ali has only improved his game this season. Rumors link him to mega-money moves, and while none of those are set in stone, it’s perfectly understandable that clubs are willing to break the bank for the youngster. The centre-back had a big role to play in four of Goa’s clean sheets – against Chennaiyin, Jamshedpur, ATK Mohun Bagan and Odisha. Besides that, he also contributed to the offensive department, scoring one goal and providing two assists, all of which came in the two games against the Mariners. Of the defensive department of the Gaurs, he has the second highest number of successful tackles (16). Besides that, he also used his defensive acumen to make crucial interceptions – 17 in 14 matches. #4 Aakash Sangwan (Chennaiyin) Aakash Sangwan is not a name that many Indian football fans would have heard before this season, simply because he has never featured in ISL before. The 27-year-old left-back had a good last season for RoundGlass Punjab which helped him move to Chennaiyin. However, with the experienced Narayan Das already playing for the Marina Machans, it wasn’t really expected that Sangwan would have many opportunities. Things changed when Das suffered a big injury, and having had his chance, the Haryana player made him score in spectacular fashion. In only his third game of the season against East Bengal, he not only helped his team keep a clean sheet but also assisted the goal which turned out to be the winner. This performance proved enough for head coach Thomas Brdaric to make Sangwan a regular fixture on the team, and he did not drop out of the team. Although it might be worrying that the clean sheets have tried since the left-back has been an attacking threat as well as a reliable defender. After the game against Torchbearers, he added three more assists to his name – against NorthEast United, Jamshedpur and Hyderabad. #3 Lalengmawia Ralte – I love you (City of Mumbai) It’s not easy to make a name for yourself in a team full of foreign stalwarts like Greg Stewart and Ahmed Jahouh, but the Mizo midfielder did it with sublime ease. He contributed in all departments – both in defense and in attack. As for the latter, the 22-year-old has scored three goals, two of them against East Bengal and the other against Bengaluru. Ralte has been responsible for recycling many of Mumbai City’s attacks from midfield, having managed 346 successful passes in 11 appearances. Besides that, he also had a big influence on the team’s defensive play. The Islanders have kept six clean sheets so far, and Apuia has appeared in five of those matches. He also averages one successful tackle per game. #2 Liston Colaco (ATK Mohun Bagan) Liston Colaco may have scored just one league goal so far, which compared to his eight goals in the 2021-22 ISL season might seem like a disappointment. However, a closer look at ATK Mohun Bagan’s games will show how the winger was responsible for the majority of his team’s attacks. As well as finding the back of the net against NorthEast United, Colaco also assisted four goals – two of them against Kerala Blasters, the other two against Mumbai City and Goa. The 24-year-old has created 12 big chances in 13 appearances with none of the Mariners’ Indian players surpassing that figure. Liston might also consider himself a little unlucky this season. #1 Halisharan Narzary (Hyderabad) Injury kept Halicharan Narzary out of action for much of Hyderabad’s superb 2021-22 ISL season, where they won the title. Even in the five matches he played last season, Narzary couldn’t score a single goal. However, this season has gone like a dream for the experienced winger. The 28-year-old has scored three goals – against Mumbai City, NorthEast United and Chennaiyin. Besides that, he also assisted five goals – twice against Highlanders and once each against Odisha, Bengaluru and Goa. He had the most shots among the Nizams’ Indian Brigade (21), while being second in chances created, with 19 chances to his name in 13 appearances. 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