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Hume, Slepicka lead the strikers’ charge

Nothing delights a football fanatic more than a forward scoringa goal when the team needs it the most. The inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has seen a good handful of this breed thathas brought joy and cheer to the spectators and their teams alike.

Gustavo Dos Santoshas been the standout player in Delhi Dynamos FC’s campaign. This young Brazilian’s youthful exuberance saw him fail initially, but coach Harm Van Veldhoventransformed him into match-winning material before long. With five goals from 19 shots at the goal, Dos Santos’ effectiveness cannot be underplayed. Delhi banked on him for inspiration at times in the absence of marquee player Alessandro Del Piero. If only he had begun to fire from the start in his 13 appearances, perhaps Delhi would have had a different tale to tell.

For sheer effectiveness and dependence, Iain Humehas been outstanding for Kerala Blasters FC. The Scottish-born Canadian is a delightful sight on the field with his deadly shots and pokes at the goalmouth. Not surprisinglyfor the masses at the Kochi Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Hume has become their darling. Even in the first leg semi-final, which Kerala won handsomely over Chennaiyin FC, his signature touch resulted in a goal and an assist. With five goals so far, Hume has been the mainstay for a Kerala side that has transformed itself into favourites for the title after the first leg of their semi-final.

Yet another breed of striking feet belonged toJohn Stiven Mendoza Valencia. Without a doubt, he was the pillar of Chennaiyin FC’s initial success. What made him a scintillating sight was his energy level and enthusiasm. But as luck would have it, Mendoza Valencia picked up an injury which ruled him out of the ISL after four goals in nine appearances.

Among the overseas stars who dominated the striking area,an Indian stands out as well. Chennaiyin FC’s JejeLalpekhlua has impressed pundits with his skills and tenacious displays. For someone who has scored four goals in his first three appearances for the Indian national team, Jeje’s pedigree is impeccable. Even in the ISL,the 23-year-old had found the net thrice, despite the presence of prolific scorer ElanoBlumer. A lot will be expected of Jeje if Chennaiyin are to bounce back and make the final cut.

A silent performer of the league has been FC Goa’s MiroslavSlepicka. When manager Zicowas in a dilemma as to who would get the goals for the error-filled Goa attack, the Czech stepped up to save his side the blushes. Heprovided the momentum that brought Goa to second place in the final standings, and his five goals in eight appearances bear testimony to his effectiveness.

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