The last man on any team is perhaps the most important and the goalkeepers in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) have proven just that.
The oldest marquee player in the ISL at 44 years, Kerala Blasters FC player-manager David James is rolling back the years as he has led his team time and again. The Blasters finished fourth in the league and qualified for the semi-finals,with James operating from the touchline at times. The Englishman has made his experience count and will be important for Kerala’s title chances as they sit in a pretty position to make the final cut.
Though he came in as an unknown in a team full of stars, Jan Seda has enthralled with his goalkeeping skills. With FC Goa not having the best of starts to the tournament, Seda came under pressure conceding unfortunate goals but since then, his fortunes have turned alongside the team’s. His show between the postshelped Goa qualify in second spot for the semi-finals. With five clean sheets to his name, he has saved a remarkable 82% shots on target.
Saving 35 of the 45 shots faced in the ISL, TP Reheneshhelped NorthEast United FC put on brave shows despite finishing at the bottom of the table. Since replacing Greek World Cupper AlexandrosTzorvas, the youngster made his mark to secure a permanent place under coachRicki Herbert. While the first edition of the ISL maybe a forgetful experience for NorthEast, with young talents like Rehenesh, this is one side to look out for in the future.
Though SandipNandy came into the side after David James’ injury, he impressed with clean sheets in his three appearances, while making an incredible 25 saves of the 27 shots faced. It translates to a 96% success rate – the highest in the league so far.Teammate Iain Hume exclaimed after Nandy’s match-winning performance against FC Pune City that secured their qualification for the semi-final, “I wouldn’t say we were lucky; we’ve got a keeper who’s in top form. It was the best goalkeeping performance I’ve seen in the league.”
Dubbed the ‘Indian Spiderman’,Subrata Paul is one of the most recognized faces in Indian football with over 60 international caps under his belt. The 28-year-old signed up for Mumbai City FC in the ISL and even with his team finishing seventh in an eight-team league, he kept six clean sheets -the most in the league.Manager Peter Reid may be a disappointed man at the end of their campaign but Paul has done his bit to put a smile on his boss’ face.