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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.
If week six of ISL 2016 is any pointer for the rest of the season, fans of the league could be in for a treat. 20 goals in six matches in week six is by far the best weekly goal return of the season. As the race for the playoffs hots up, teams have done away with trying to shut shop and play defensively. Instead, attack has seemed to take precedence which has been reflected in week six’s high-scoring matches.
Delhi Dynamos’ free-flowing football has taken them to the summit, from where their playoffs spot is all but secured. Meanwhile, NorthEast United’s free fall doesn’t seem like stopping any time soon. The Highlanders fell to their fourth straight loss in week six.
As with the general scheme of things, the Indian players have also broken the shackles to produce match-defining performances in the last few games. Bengaluru FC’s stars CK Vineeth and Eugeneson Lyngdoh have stood out among the local lads in week six, as we run down the top five Indian players from the week gone by.
As if his exploits against Goa weren’t enough, the Kannur-born striker went on to score two more goals in Kerala’s next game. Finding his team in a similar situation of trailing by a goal against Chennaiyin, Vineeth’s brace changed the course of the match. His two goals handed Kerala a 3-1 win, and propelled them to second place in the table.
Having struggled with the lumbering Dramane Traore up front in a Mumbai-dominated first half, Pune City recieved a significant boost in the second half with Eugene’s energy and invention on the ball. Pune City’s defence has tightened up in recent matches. Add to that Eugene’s spark, and the Stallions are well set for a playoffs push.
Milan’s goal against Atletico Kolkata showed his cultured side of the game that often gets overlooked in the light of his tireless workrate. That goal was his second this season, and turned the complexion of the game as Delhi channelled their determination to hold on to a 2-2 draw with ten men. The playoffs beckon for Delhi, and wrapping Milan in cotton wool to keep him fresh for the season’s latter stages should be a priority for Gianluca Zambrotta’s Lions.
The Goan goalkeeper pulled off save after fine save to deny the Highlanders. That proved to be the difference in the end when Romeo Fernandes scored the winner deep into stoppage time. Kattimani’s had a rollercoaster ISL-3, having seen his stock reach rock bottom in the reverse fixture against NorthEast when he gifted them a goal. The 27-year-old was dropped from the eleven, and only recently made a return to the side. It was perhaps apt that he saved his man of the match display for NorthEast, and has given Goa renewed hope in their pursuit of making the playoffs after stopping their rot.
With Richard Gadze getting injured in the same game and Badara Badji getting suspended after his red card against Kolkata, the onus will be on Lewis to plug the gaps in his team’s attack in the remaining games. Lewis has been a breath of fresh air this season, and that has translated into his team being the most entertaining of ISL-3 so far.
Read about the top performers from the previous weeks