Hero ISL Chapter 2: The season of hat-tricks

The second season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) was breathtaking as it involved some out-of-the-world goals, record-breaking feats and some thrilling matches. From Stiven Mendoza’s 13 goals to two hat-tricks in a match, to the biggest win in the history of the league, Season 2 had it all as it saw 57 more goals scored (186) than the inaugural edition. The 2015 season also witnessed a total of 8 hat-tricks, highest ever in ISL history.

Chennaiyin FC were crowned the champions of the Hero ISL 2015 season as they beat FC Goa 3-2 in a nerve-wracking final.

Here a look at each team’s journey in the second season of the Hero ISL:

1. Atlético de Kolkata FC

Antonio Habas led the Kolkata-based side for the second successive season and guided the defending champions to a semi-final finish. They lost 4-2 on aggregate to Chennaiyin FC in the last four, but not before getting the better of their semi-final conquerors twice in the league phase. Thanks to Iain Hume’s exploits that included two hat-tricks on his way to 11 goals that season, ATK concluded the season in second place with 23 points in the league phase.

2. Chennaiyin FC

The Marina Machans lost three of their first five games as they couldn’t find the right rhythm in the first half of the season. By the end of gameweek ten, Chennaiyin were last in the points table. However, they went on to win their last four games sealing the third spot in the points table and qualifying for the semi-finals. Their in-form striker, Mendoza was phenomenal, helping CFC by scoring 13 goals and winning the Golden Boot besides also winning the Hero of the League award that season. CFC beat ATK 4-2 on aggregate to reach the final where they got the better of FC Goa 3-2 thanks to Mendoza’s stoppage-time winner. CFC’s goalkeeper, Apoula Edel won the Golden Glove as he kept a season-best tally of six clean sheets.

3. Delhi Dynamos FC

Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos took over the role of head coach at Delhi Dynamos in the second season of the Hero ISL. The Dynamos had an impressive home record, losing once that helped Carlos steer the team into their first-ever semi-final appearance. The Dynamos put up a tough fight but ended up losing 3-1 on aggregate to FC Goa in the last four stage. During the season, their biggest win came against FC Pune City whom they beat 3-1. The Delhi-based side secured a fourth-placed finish with 22 points in the league table.

4. FC Goa

The Gaurs had an outstanding campaign in the Hero ISL 2015 season. Zico continued as the head coach for the second consecutive year. FCG started the season with an easy win over Delhi Dynamos. The attacking football led by Zico saw them score the most goals in the league, netting 29 times. Continuing their impressive form, the Gaurs decimated Mumbai City FC to record a 7-0 victory, in a match that saw two records being set. Firstly, it was the biggest win in ISL history and it remains so till date. Secondly, the game also had two hat-tricks in one match. The Gaurs qualified for the semi-finals with ease, finishing top of the table with 25 points. After defeating the Dynamos in the semis, FCG suffered a heart-breaking, narrow defeat to Chennaiyin as they lost 3-2.

5. Kerala Blasters FC

England Under-20 coach Peter Taylor replaced David James as the new head coach of the club for the Hero ISL 2015 season. But after a string of defeats, Taylor was replaced by Trevor Morgan as the interim coach. Later on, Morgan was replaced by Terry Phelan as the third and the final coach for the remainder of the season. With the continuous transition of managers, the Tuskers were only able to win three games out of the fourteen played as they finished last on the points table with 13 points, failing to qualify for the semi-finals.

6. Mumbai City FC

Former Chelsea forward, Nikolas Anelka became MCFC’s player-manager ahead of the Hero ISL 2015 season. Chhetri was the centre of attraction, as the new MCFC signing was the top-scorer for the Islanders. Not only was he the top Indian goalscorer in the league but Chhetri also became the first Indian to score a hat-trick in the Hero ISL. The Islanders though had an unsatisfactory season as they registered just 4 wins out of 14 games, finishing in 6th position on the points table. MCFC won the Fair Play award of the Hero ISL 2015 season. After not qualifying for the semi-finals, player-manager Anelka announced his departure at the end of the season.

7. NorthEast United FC

The Highlanders hired former Venezuela national coach, César Farías as their new head coach for the Hero ISL 2015 season. NEUFC lost three of their opening fixtures and never really recovered from the early defeats as they slipped out of semi-final contention. Argentine Nicolás Vélez was their top scorer with five goals that season. They finished the season in fifth place in the league table with 20 points.

8. FC Pune City

English football legend David Platt replaced Franco Colombia as the head coach of FC Pune City in the Hero ISL 2015 season. The Stallions opened their campaign with a 3-1 victory over arch-rivals Mumbai City FC. Following a decent first half of the season, FC Pune City slipped-up in the second half, not managing a single win. They finished seventh in the league table with 15 points, unable to secure the semi-finals spot for the second consecutive season.

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