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- The Series
The Indian Super League had an encouraging start in its inaugural season. While this site would like to see more young Indian talents given a chance in the starting line-up, the presence of any Indian footballers taking the field alongside experienced professionals is encouraging. In this weekly mini-series, we take a look at the best Indian performers.
Here is a look at the best Indian players from the opening week of the Indian Super League.
Israil Gurung // 26 // Pune City // Winger: The 26-year-old right winger set the tone for Pune City’s 2015 campaign by getting himself involved in all three of his side’s goals against Mumbai City. The Balewadi Stadium crowd was sent into raptures as Gurung provided the assists for Tuncay’s two goals and then got in the goalscoring act himself. Gurung’s decisive contributions didn’t come in Pune City’s second game against NorthEast United, but he remains one of the key components of David Platt’s attacking unit.
Mohammed Rafi // 33 // Kerala Blasters // Striker: The experienced striker had a fine start in the colours of his hometown club, and was the difference-maker in the Blasters’ 3–1 win over NorthEast United on the fourth matchday. Rafi was in inspired form as he helped instigate a 23-minute collapse of NorthEast and helped his side score three goals in that period. Rafi scored one and assisted one in the game, and was a constant threat in attack.
Jayesh Rane // 24 // Chennaiyin // Striker: The 24-year-old Mumbai-based striker made his first start for Chennaiyin against Goa as they looked for their first win of the season, having already lost two on the bounce. And Rane proved to be an apt replacement for the Indian international Jeje, who was absent because of international commitments. Rane provided the assist for Elano’s goal, and squandered plenty of presentable chances in an all-action display which helped his team register a comprehensive 4-0 win.
Arata Izumi // 33 // Atletico Kolkata // Striker: The 33-year-old striker responded to the injury to Kolkata’s marquee acquisition Helder Postiga, who scored twice in his ISL debut on the opening day of the season against Chennaiyin, by netting the opener against Goa at the Fatorda Stadium. Arata’s first half strike — a volleyed finish from a difficult position inside the box — was enough for the defending champions to hold on for a draw as they kept Goa’s late onslaught at bay following Baljit Sahni’s second half sending-off.
Rahul Bheke // 24 // Kerala Blasters // Wing-Back: The young right-sided player showed his attacking and defensive prowess for the Blasters, and has been a breath of fresh air in the tournament screaming out for goalscorers and creative players. Bheke’s long throw-ins have become one of the highlights of the season. The 24-year-old — who operates primarily as a wing-back in coach Peter Taylor’s 3–5–2 set-up — has even assisted two goals via his long throws. Bheke’s involvement in all phases of the game marks him out as one of the most exciting Indians in the league currently.
Other Notable Performers: Subash Singh (Mumbai City), Keenan Almeida (Goa), Mandar Rao Desai (Goa), Romeo Fernandes (Goa), Jeje (Chennaiyin)
Written by Abhijit Bharali