The Sportstar Aces Awards are back for a fifth chapter, seeking to honour incredible performances in sports across various disciplines.
Among the many Popular Choice honours open to public voting is the coveted Club of the Year award and the nominee list is packed with super achievers from across the spectrum of sport.
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Gujarat Titans (Cricket), Gokulam Kerala FC (Football), Hyderabad FC (Football) and Puneri Paltan (Kabaddi) have been nominated for the honour.
Here are their achievements in 2022:
With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introducing two new teams in the Indian Premier League in 2022 - Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants - there was a window of opportunity for more players. And under the leadership of Hardik Pandya, Gujarat played like champions right from the beginning, clinching the title on debut. In a rather one-sided final against Rajasthan Royals, captain Hardik led from the front to guide the team in front of home fans in Ahmedabad. Throughout the tournament, the team found consistent performers in David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Mohammed Shami, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan.
Gokulam Kerala FC performed well for two consecutive seasons and dominated the I-League, which now is the second tier of the Indian football league system. It won the 2020–21 I-League to become the first-ever club from Kerala to win the title, and became the first team to defend it in 2021–22. In doing so, Gokulam also became the first club from Kerala to qualify for the continental AFC Cup. In the 2022 AFC Cup group-stage opener, the club achieved a historic 4–2 win against Indian Super League side ATK Mohun Bagan, but could not maintain the momentum and was eliminated from the group stage.
Hyderabad FC won the country’s top football league title in the third season of the Indian Super League, after making its debut in 2019. The quick rise to prominence makes HFC one of the most successful clubs in recent times. For its success, the club seems to draw inspiration from the rich legacy of football in the region which saw greats like Tulsidas Balaram, Peter Thangaraj, Mohammad Habib, Syed Nayeemuddin, Yousuf Khan and the celebrated coach Syed Abdul Rahim emerging from the region. It is a great feat for a newly-formed side as it bettered a host of legacy teams in the league to win the title.
Puneri Paltan, one of the founding franchises of the Pro Kabaddi League, has an extensive tiered set up in the league. What sets this club apart from the rest is its Yuva Paltan set-up, which identifies and grooms young talent primarily from Maharashtra. It has acted as a feeder for the main team, which built its 2022 squad around players who rose through the ranks from the Yuva Paltan set up. Under the leadership of coach BC Ramesh and captain Fazel Atrachali, a young Puneri Paltan side made its maiden final but fell to Jaipur Pink Panthers in the summit clash.