Five of Hero ISL 2018-19’s most lethal marksmen
Bengaluru FC’s maiden Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) title triumph on Sunday evening brought with it an end to another glittering Hero ISL campaign that offered just about everything both in terms of quality and entertainment. Each match had a different narrative and a different attraction about it, leaving fans engraved and engrossed in the action until an outcome was asserted.
The forwards, like always, were the directors of these amazing 95 spectacles rendered in the fifth edition of the Hero ISL, with some new names joining the now established crop of certified chiefs. Remembering their contribution in making the season a grand success, we shortlist the five best forwards from the Hero ISL 2018-19 campaign.
1. Ferran Corominas
The Spaniard would be cursing his luck for failing to take home the Hero ISL title for the second time running, despite topping the goalscoring charts in each of those terms. Since making his debut at the start of last season, the former Espanyol man has been at a level of his own, bringing a world-class amalgamation of skills and style to an awestruck league, which as a result, quickly became his hunting ground.
‘Coro’ scored a division-high 16 goals this season, becoming the league’s all-time top-scorer in the process. While those numbers were rather warranted from before the start of the season, his reputation as a playmaker seriously rose with the 36-year-old ending the season with seven assists from 20 matches. Corominas also had 55 pops at goal, hitting the target from 31 of those — a league-high statistic.
2. Bartholomew Ogbeche
NorthEast United FC’s reliance on the 34-year-old Nigerian was there for all to see in their semi-final first-leg clash with Bengaluru FC, where they suffered a drastic change in identity once Ogbeche was subbed-off due to an injury. Until then, the Highlanders were all-over the Blues, taking the lead through Redeem Tlang’s strike assisted by the Nigerian.
He arrived only at the start of the season, but quickly got to grips with the nitty-gritty of the league, scoring four goals in the opening three matches, including a 10-minute hat-trick against Chennayin FC. His understanding with Federico Gallego improved as the season wore on, helping the Highlanders achieve their best-ever finish to a Hero ISL campaign. Ogbeche finished as the joint-second top-scorer with 12 goals from 18 matches, while also had two assists to his name.
With time running out in #NEUCHE, Bartholomew Ogbeche came up with an absolute rocket 🚀 of a strike to win the match for @NEUtdFC!— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) February 4, 2019
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3. Modou Sougou
Mumbai City FC’s rather intimidating philosophy based around the Senegalese often left the opposition frustrated and incompetent in applying their own principles on the pitch. Sougou neither has the touch of Corominas nor the power of Ogbeche but was yet able to guide the Islanders into the semi-finals, where they eventually lost out to FC Goa.
Most of his goals came from playing on the shoulder of defenders and running onto through-balls supplied by the likes of Arnold Issoko and Pablo Morgado, who could instinctively spot his runs after evidently working on it in training. The 34-year-old finished with 12 goals from 18 matches which included the league’s first-ever four-goal haul that he managed against Kerala Blasters FC in mid-December. The lack of assists will, however, be something he would be hoping to work upon for next season.
4. Sunil Chhetri
The Bengaluru captain was far from just a goal-scorer far Carles Cuadrat’s men in the season gone by. A natural leader on and off the pitch, Chhetri was vital in keeping the spirits high in the camp during some nervy moments of the campaign where things could have gone south. The Indian striker always led from the front, giving his all on the pitch whether he played as a center-forward or a winger.
p>The all-time top-scoring Indian in the Hero ISL ended the league with nine goals from 19 matches — four more than the next highest goal-scoring domestic name. Chhetri further assisted three goals and would have been more prolific had Miku not suffered an injury. The 34-year-old’s great chemistry with the Venezuelan was on display at the start of the season, where the formidable Blues looked like running away with the league. Chhetri’s form dipped towards the end of the term, but his relentless commitment to the cause meant dropping him was never an option for Cuadrat.
5. Marcelo Pereira
Although FC Pune City had a largely underwhelming Hero ISL 2018-19 season, they would be pleased to see the progress Pereira has made in becoming a game-changer for them. The Brazilian has always been a gifted footballer capable of almost anything on his day, but a lack of consistency to perform in the big games earns him his fair share of criticism.
The departure of Miguel Angel Portugal after nine matches into the season sparked Pereira’s renaissance with both Pradyum Reddy and then, Phil Brown giving him the freedom to let his skills dictate the Stallions’ play. The 31-year-old ended the campaign with four assists and six goals from 14 matches — the highest tally among the Pune squad.