Hero ISL 2016’s top defenders
Hero Indian Super League 2016 saw some staunch and resolute defending from all teams that saw fewer goals (145) this year than last season (186). Here indiansuperleague.com takes a look at some of the best defenders this season who stood firm and made sure their teams did not concede many.
Lucian Goian (Mumbai City FC)
Mumbai City FC had the best defence in the league, and Lucian Goian played a major role in their conceding least goals (11) and keeping most clean sheets (9). The Romanian defender was as tough as nails and dealt with tricky situations in a cool and composed manner. He was an imposing figure at the back and hardly ever allowed any room for opposition attackers to take advantage of. The 33-year-old made an astounding 79 tackles, the most in the league this season. He was also useful in attack, posing a dangerous threat from set-pieces. One of his standout displays came in Mumbai’s home match against Kerala Blasters FC, where he also found the back of the net.
Cedric Hengbart (Kerala Blasters FC)
Cedric Hengbart’s presence at the back was inspirational for his team-mates. The Frenchman developed a good understanding with the likes of Aaron Hughes and Sandesh Jhingan as Steve Coppell’s backline came to form one of the tightest defences in the league. The 36-year-old was also a dangerous man going up front and had a goal to his name as well as three assists, which are outstanding figures for a defender. Even though he had many eye-catching displays, one of his strongest performances was against Delhi Dynamos FC in the first leg of his team’s semi-final at home, where his soundness in defence helped Kerala keep a clean sheet against the best attacking line this season.
Souvik Chakraborty (Delhi Dynamos FC)
Souvik Chakraborty played each and every minute for his team this season, and one look at his performances and contributions will show why. He was second to only Goian with regard to tackles in the league (76) and also completed the second highest number of interceptions (31). A versatile player, he thwarted many attacks and was a very hard nut for opposition attackers to crack in Delhi’s defence. The opposition attackers had a tough time finding a way around him and he also utilised his speed to good effect. While Delhi went on a scoring spree this season, the 25-year-old became a permanent fixture in the Lions’ backline, competing in each of every minute of their campaign.
Henrique Sereno (Atlético de Kolkata)
Atlético de Kolkata’s centre-back Henrique Sereno was relatively unknown at first. The 31-year-old Portuguese, however, slowly and steadily blended into the team and performed solidly in defence. He stood his ground in front of several attacks and was always at hand when it came to clearing danger. Sereno made 10 appearances for ATK with his standout performance undoubtedly coming in the final against Kerala Blasters FC, where he scored ATK’s equaliser in front of more than 50,000 Kerala fans. He also picked up a head injury in the game but still performed heroically in defence before being substituted late on in what was a Hero-of-the-Match performance.
Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters FC)
Sandesh Jhingan was a mainstay at the back for the Blasters in Hero ISL 2016 as he slotted effortlessly into the centre-back and fullback positions. The ISL Emerging Player of the League in the inaugural season, Jhingan went from strength to strength this year. His ability to sense danger was there for all to see in his goalmouth clearance in the second leg of their semi-final against Delhi Dynamos FC that helped the Blasters reach their second final in three years. The 23-year-old India international was also confident moving forward and will be looking to add to his offensive game in the future.