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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.
The penultimate week of the Indian Super League group stages witnessed another goal fest, as the first three semi-final entrants were decided. Holders Atletico de Kolkata, Roberto Carlos’ Delhi Dynamos and Zico’s high-scoring FC Goa booked their spots in the last four, with only one spot remaining up for grabs with NorthEast United in pole position.
A total of 22 goals were scored in week eight, with Atletico’s Iain Hume scoring his second hat-trick of the campaign to inch closer to top scorer Stiven Mendoza, who continued his good form with a brace against Delhi. Here are the top five Indians from week eight of the Indian Super League.
Jeje // 24 // Chennaiyin // Striker: The diminutive forward has forged a fruitful partnership with ISL top scorer Stiven Mendoza this season, and scored twice as Chennaiyin romped past Delhi Dynamos 4–1 in Chennai. Jeje’s two goals were unsurprisingly set up by Mendoza as Chennaiyin upped the ante in their pursuit of a top four finish. The brace took Jeje’s tally for the season to three goals in six matches.
Mandar Rao Desai // 23 // Goa // Winger: Mandar scored one and set up another in Goa’s 5–1 away win over Kerala Blasters as he helped his side earn a semi-final spot. The 23-year-old was bright throughout the game, and like in his previous 11 appearances in the competition, troubled the opposition defence at will. Mandar has turned out to be one of the finds of the season, and will be one of Goa’s key players for the semi-finals.
Seityasen Singh // 23 // NorthEast United // Winger: Seityasen features in this list for the second week running, as the plucky winger continues to be one of NorthEast’s key attacking tools. Seitya scored the equaliser for the Highlanders against Delhi, only to see his side concede late on to lose an important home game. Should NorthEast fail to make it to the semifinals, it would be hard on players like Seitya, who have been inspirational this season.
Sandip Nandy // 40 // Kerala Blasters // Goalkeeper: The veteran goalkeeper rolled back the years in his first start of the season for Kerala Blasters against Mumbai City. The 40-year-old Nandy made three fine saves as he kept the home side Mumbai at bay throughout the match. With the Blasters now out of the reckoning for the semifinals, Nandy’s exclusion throughout the campaign looks even more damning given his performance against Mumbai.
Sanju Pradhan // 26 // NorthEast United // Winger: The 26-year-old was a livewire in the first half during NorthEast’s game at Goa, and had he produced better end product on the day, NorthEast would’ve found themselves in a more promising situation in the standings at this moment. Sanju kept the Goa backline busy in an opening period full of energy and trickery; his quick feet and pace often caught the Goa defence napping but he couldn’t cap his fine performance with a goal or an assist.
Written by Abhijit Bharali