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The Indian Super League had an encouraging start in its first 2 seasons. 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.
Five games in week five of the Indian Super League witnessed a string of good performances from the Indian players, not least the three Indian goalscorers in Jackichand Singh, Jeje and Kean Lewis. While Mumbai City leapfrogged Atletico Kolkata to the top of the table, Pune City finally managed to win a home game at the sixth time of asking.
With only three points separating the third-placed team from the seventh place, there are lots of reasons to be optimistic about the next few weeks as the race for the playoffs heats up. Here are the top five Indian players from week five of ISL-3.
Defending champions Chennaiyin missed their chance to open up a gap on fifth place when they took on Mumbai City at home in week five’s first match, as Jeje’s goal was cancelled out by a late Leo Costa equaliser for the away side.
Starting alongside Maurizio Peluso up front, Jeje was a constant menace for Mumbai City’s defence. His second goal of the season came via a header from Peluso’s corner. With Jeje finding his touch in front of goal, Chennaiyin look more ominous as the season heads into its home stretch.
One of the revelations of ISL-3, Kean Lewis found the net for Delhi Dynamos in their impressive 2–0 win over Kerala Blasters. Lewis is part of Delhi’s eye-catching front three which has combined for nine of the team’s 12 goals this season.
The 24-year-old’s relentless running on the counter, and ability to use his quick feet — as seen in his goal against Kerala — is a major asset for his side. With each passing game, Lewis’ growing understanding with his fellow attackers — Marcelinho and Richard Gadze — has underlined the Lions as one of the title favourites.
Pune City’s first home win of the season at the expense of Atletico Kolkata can be attributed to their solid defensive showing. Narayan Das, their left wing-back, switched effortlessly from defence to attack and even a tactical switch to a four-man defence did not put the young defender off.
The 23-year-old has been silently effective throughout the season, putting in shifts on the left hand side, and working tirelessly. He deservedly picked up the young player award at the end of the Kolkata game, and will be seen as one of the Stallions’ key players for the remainder of the season.
The 24-year-old left-back has played every minute of Delhi Dynamos’ matches in ISL-3, and has been a key cog in his team, both from defensive and attacking perspectives. Souvik completed the second most number of passes in Delhi’s 2–0 win over Kerala, and was instrumental in starting attacking moves.
With Kean Lewis playing in front of him and always on the move, Souvik’s passes to release the winger on the left flank have been significant in stretching opponents’ defences this season.
Jackichand has had limited playing time for Mumbai City this season owing to the good performances of his attacking peers, but he made sure his first start in ISL-3 turned into a memorable occasion as he netted the only goal in his team’s win over NorthEast United.
The 24-year-old has made sporadic appearances this season, but his sense of anticipation proved crucial as his goal stemmed from a goalkeeping mistake from NorthEast. With Sony Norde, Matias Defederico, Diego Forlan and Leo Costa in fine form, and also the likes of Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh to join them soon, Jackichand will provide another option in attack for the table-topping Mumbaikars.
Read about the top performers from the previous weeks