SC East Bengal’s goalkeeper Debjit Majumder has turned his form around after a shaky start to the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season. He has been among the best shot-stoppers this season and has helped East Bengal avoid defeat in several games with his saves. During the recent defeat to Mumbai City FC and draw against FC Goa, he made eight saves from two matches.
In what is his first full season in the ISL, Kerala Blasters’ Sandeep Singh has impressed many with his all-action approach at the back. The 25-year-old started the season as a centre-back, but has established himself in the XI as the right-back. The former TRAU footballer possesses the energy to run up and down the flanks and can offer support in attack. At times, he has been rash with his tackles, but he has timed his challenges well to win the ball before the opponent.
Mumbai City’s Amey Ranawade has had a breakthrough season at right-back and has hardly put a foot wrong. Another player who followed head coach Sergio Lobera out of Goa, Ranawade’s performances have been key to Mumbai’s tight defensive showing and its record-equalling unbeaten run of 12 games. His crucial block to deny a cross from Chennaiyin FC’s Thoi Singh helped Mumbai hold on to its unbeaten run.
Akash Mishra makes our team for the second successive fortnight. His energetic displays in both defence and attack have helped Hyderabad FC remain unbeaten in the last seven matches since the turn of the year. His teammate and centre-back Odei Onaindia has been quietly influential in the team’s progress this season into a top-four contender. He has marshalled a young defensive unit with his leadership while adding his own quality through his reading of the game, recoveries and passing from the back. He has made crucial tackles and blocks to mop up errors at the back as the team has conceded just six goals since the turn of the year.
In midfield, 20-year-old Lalengmawia has been key to NorthEast United’s revival. The youngster has been the ideal foil to senior partner Khassa Camara in midfield as the team has registered successive wins over Jamshedpur FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC. Interim head coach Khalid Jamil had high praise for Lalengmawia, describing him as one of the best midfielders in the country.
FC Goa’s Alberto Noguera and NorthEast United’s Federico Gallego have been among the standout creative midfielders since January. Noguera has forced himself into the starting XI with his knack of picking out through-balls and creating chances for his team’s forwards. Gallego is perhaps his team’s most influential player with his driving runs from the midfield and he stamped his influence in the win over ATK Mohun Bagan with a goal and an assist.
Blasters winger K. P. Rahul struck a late winner to help his side complete a comeback win against Bengaluru FC before a headed goal rescued a point against FC Goa. He now has three goals in 11 matches and is among the Blasters’ key goal-scoring threats. He adds a high work rate with his tireless running to help his team in defence. Rahul has effected 57 tackles – most for a forward this season – 13 interceptions and 10 blocks.
Deshorn Brown made the headlines with his two-goal show that ended Mumbai City’s unbeaten run and help continue NorthEast United’s momentum. Brown, who is on loan from Bengaluru FC, looks a reborn player with the Highlanders while playing as the focal No. 9 in the side. NorthEast United’s threat with its direct attacking ideas through the middle and the wings makes it the ideal setup for Brown to thrive in.
East Bengal’s Bright Enobakhare is arguably the most entertaining footballer in the division with his skill set of pace, dribbling and creativity. The Nigerian put on a scintillating individual display in the draw against Goa where the opposition defenders struggled to keep him quiet. While he didn’t have a goal or an assist to show for his displays in his team’s last two matches, Bright ran the show for his side.
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