Hyderabad FC’s youngsters have set the field on fire with their relentless energy and attacking displays this season. Among the bunch, attacking midfielder Mohammed Yasir and winger Liston Colaco – both aged 22 – have emerged as integral members of Manuel Márquez Roca’s side in the absence of injured overseas players. In the 1-1 draw against ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) and 3-2 win over SC East Bengal, Hyderabad had just two and three foreign players, respectively, in its line-up.
Liston, who led the line as a striker against Bagan, came on as an impact substitute to turn around a 0-1 deficit against SC East Bengal. He dazzled with his snappy footwork as he played an integral part in all three of Hyderabad’s goals.
He saved his best for last as he ran half the length of the pitch with the ball at his feet, and twisted and turned experienced defender Scott Neville, before laying it for Halicharan Narzary. Returning to the lineup, Yasir had a stellar 68 minutes, creating five chances and providing the assist for the equaliser.
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Jamshedpur FC is unbeaten in six matches with vital contribution from its defence. Goalkeeper T. P. Rehenesh is having a stellar season, pulling off the most saves so far. In the win against NorthEast, Rehenesh saved a penalty to add to his three saves in the draw against Mumbai, when Jamshedpur played with 10 men for over 60 minutes.
Rehenesh’s skipper and Jamshedpur centre-back Peter Hartley provided excellent cover in front of the goal, putting his body and head on the line to stop the opposition from taking shots at goal. “Hartley is a warrior, a leader of men,” described Jamshedpur manager Owen Coyle after his team earned a point against Mumbai.
Mumbai City left wing-back Vignesh Dakshinamurthy completes our backline. The 22-year-old, playing in his maiden Indian Super League (ISL) season, has deputised well for Mandar Rao Dessai and has played in each of his side’s seven games so far. He bagged his professional career’s first goal in phenomenal fashion when he struck a sublime volley in the 2-0 win over Hyderabad FC. Three wily old men from Bengaluru FC (BFC) make up our team. Striker Sunil Chhetri (36), midfielder Dimas Delgado (37) and defender Harmanjot Khabra (32) have shown they can continue to make the difference. BFC has found some much-needed fluency in its transition of the ball from defence to attack ever since Dimas regained full fitness and returned to the starting XI. The Spaniard has impressed with his passing range and diagonal switch-in plays to set up balls in the opposition box. He even added a goal to his name in the win over Kerala Blasters.
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Khabra and Chhetri have struck a fantastic partnership with the former providing two assists from the right-back role to find his skipper, who has fired in two headed goals. Both goals were near-carbon copy moves that seem to have been identified by the coaching staff and perfected on the training field.
Chennaiyin skipper Rafael Crivellaro is easily among the most talented attacking players in the ISL. He is the creative heartbeat of this Chennaiyin side, and his absence was hugely felt in the insipid goalless draw against NorthEast. In the 2-1 win over FC Goa, Crivellaro scored a stunning goal directly from a corner kick and set up the winner, showcasing his close control and vision.
Despite the defeat, Goa’s Jorge Ortiz Mendoza is slowly establishing himself as a key member in Juan Ferrando’s side. The Spaniard has been the fulcrum in the midfield, often hugging the left flank but versatile enough to slot in in the centre as well. The 28-year-old is to Goa what Crivellaro is to Chennaiyin, but Mendoza has more pace in his feet and has two goals to his name in the last three fixtures.
Carl McHugh is an indispensable member in Antonio Habas’ ATKMB side. The Irish defensive midfielder has started all of his team’s first six matches this season, sitting in front of the back three to mop up opposition threats. He was voted Man of the Match against Goa for his role in disrupting its free-flowing football style. He executed seven tackles and made three successful interceptions and two blocks.