Key Indian players to watch out this ISL

Published 10/12/2014, 10:02 AM EDT
ISL and I-League will merge


KERALA BLASTERS-Mehtab Hossain

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Though the side doesn’t have enough high profile signings, the team owned by Sachin Tendulkar has a good bunch of Indian players. With Trevor Morgan as the coach of the team it was expected that the selection of Indian players done by him during the drafting would be perfect and he didn’t disappoint. Among these, the key Indian player to watch out for is none other than Mehtab Hossain. The 28 year old loanee from East Bengal has been one of the best midfielders currently in the national team. Mehtab has been unsurprisingly the first pick of Morgan as he has played a lot of matches under him at East Bengal. He is known for his aggressiveness and consistency in his play and is considered as the livewire for the East Bengal midfield. The midfielder has been in the national team since 2005 and hence is not short of any experience. He has scored 7 goals in 88 matches for East Bengal and 2 goals in 28 matches for Indian national team. Being a diehard Zidane fan, he has named his son Zidane!

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FC GOA-Clifford Miranda

India’s favorite tourist destination looks all set this time with their star studded lineup for ISL. With Brazilian legend Zico as the head coach and former Arsenal legend Robert Pires as a marquee signing, FC Goa will be a team that is hard to beat. The team also boasts of top I league players like Alwyn George, Jewel Raja and Holicharan Narzary. But the key Indian player in their lineup will be none other than Clifford Miranda. The 32 year old striker has been one of the most consistent players in the country. With over 190 appearances for Dempo he has been one of the main playmakers for the Goan club. He has also represented India on many occasions and won silverware including 2008 AFC challenge cup.  Being a left winger, he can surprise the opponents with his quick change of the pace and his measured crosses. With his experience of over a decade, the local boy would be one of the players to watch out for.

MUMBAI CITY FC-Subrata Pal

The business capital of India, Mumbai is all set to welcome their new team consisting of big names like Nicholas Anelka, Manuel Friedrich, Fredrik Ljungberg and many others. The team looks like clear title contenders with a perfect mix of Indian talent that they bought during the drafting. The best of the list is undoubtedly Subrata Pal. The 27 year old goalkeeper has been one of the best goalkeepers of India. He was the first goalkeeper to play abroad with FC Vestsjaelland although he never made it out of the reserves. His stint with East Bengal FC made him famous after he was adjudged I-league’s goal keeper of the year. Subrata is known for his athleticism and commitment. He has done many spectacular saves over the past few seasons which make him undoubtedly one of the best Indian footballers currently. Other teams will find it hard to breach the fort that he creates this ISL for Mumbai.

ATLETICO DE KOLKATA -Arnab Mondal

Atlético de Kolkata is one of the clubs having the best international exposure in ISL. They have already undergone a training session under Diego Simeone in Madrid along with other Athletico Madrid players. The team boasts of strong international players and some good Indian youngsters. One of those youngsters to watch out for is the local boy Arnab Mondal. The East Bengal center back has been instrumental in the clubs federation cup win in 2012 and went on to become one of the permanent members of the national side. The right footed defender has impressed a lot of coaches and has a lot of potential if given proper exposure. Midfielder Climax Lawrence and striker Mohammed Rafi will be the other players to watch out for in this star studded Kolkata team.

PUNE CITY FC-Lenny Rodrigues

Pune is known for their football academies present in the city. The city has seen tie ups with top international clubs and the passion is going to increase with a new ISL team to their name. The key Indian player to watch out from this young squad will be midfielder Lenny Rodrigues. The Churchill brothers midfielder has received the Best midfielder of the year for the 2012-13 I-league season. His lean physique which blends with his technical style of play along with his consistency sets him apart from the other footballers of India. With a lot of silverware to boast upon, Lenny Rodrigues will be one of the key players that the coach Franco Colomba would rely upon.

DELHI DYNAMOS- Francis Fernandes

The club from the capital city looks all set for the ISL with the huge marquee signing of Del Piero. Their tie-up with Dutch club Feynoord makes them much more prepared and equipped for the big stage. Comparatively the team has less big names when it comes to Indian footballers. One of the players who stands out from the rest is right winger Francis Fernandes. Dubbed as the “David Beckham of Indian football” he was one of the costliest Indian players during the player drafting.  The 28-year old spent eight seasons with Salgaocar after joining Vasco back in 2006. Fernandes played a crucial role when Salgaocar won the I-League in 2010-11 season and followed it up with a Federation Cup triumph in 2011. Although the last season as well as Asia cup didn’t go well by his standards, the Goan will be one of the sure starters for Harm van Veldhovens Delhi side.

NORTH EAST UNITED-Boithang Haokip

 The north east states of India has contributed a lot to the Indian football team. Here unlike other states, Football is the most followed sports rather than cricket. The team consists of a good bunch of young players. Among these the best and one of the most experienced is Shillong Lajong’s Boithang Haokip. He was voted I-league’s fans player of the year for 2014 and hence will be a trouble for the opposition to deal with. Haokip started playing for Lajong from the age of 18 and have been in the first team  since 2011. The 23 year old will play in the right wing for North East FC. He is capable of playing with both the feet and could turn out to be one of the best young players of the tournament. After all he has the support of 8 football supporting states behind him.

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CHENNAIYIN FC-Balwant Singh

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The city of Chennai has been known for its love for sports be it cricket, tennis, football or even motor sports. Chennaiyin FC this time comes with a perfect blend of international players and top domestic players. The team has both East Bengal skipper Harmanjot Singh Khabra and Mohun Bagan captain and goal keeper Shilton Paul. Added to these are a bunch of good young talents with the key player being former Churchill Brothers forward and 2014 FPAI Indian player of the year Balwant Singh. The 27 year old forward from Punjab has impressed many fans with a perfect last season in which he scored 10 goals in 22 games. He is known for his good dribbling and clean finishing and was one of the key players responsible for Churchill Brother’s Federation cup win last season.

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Dhruv George

11417 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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