Five players who rose in prominence after Hero ISL 2019-20
The Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) has always been known for unearthing hidden gems over the years and the 2019-20 season was no different with numerous players either announcing their arrival or coming of age. With the teams eager to give local talents a chance to prove themselves, it came as no surprise when many new faces were called up to the national camp for the FIFA and AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted proceedings. Here we have a look at a few of the biggest revelations from the season gone by.
Edwin Vanspaul was already a local fan-favourite among the Chennaiyin FC fans having played most his football in Tamil Nadu. A versatile player, he had a crucial role to play in Chennai City's Hero I-League 2018-19 triumph and produced the same level of consistency in his performances for the Marina Machans in Hero ISL 2019-20.
The 27-year-old midfielder began life in the Hero ISL as a fullback for Chennaiyin before being utilized as defensive cover alongside Anirudh Thapa by head coach Owen Coyle. His shift in role paid dividends as Chennaiyin turned around their poor start to the season by going on a dream run that led them to the Hero ISL final, which they lost to ATK FC.
Despite not registering any goal or assist, Vanspaul’s importance to Chennaiyin last campaign cannot be undermined. He made 20 appearances and had a commendable passing accuracy of 72.52% but it was his contagious work ethic that was his standout quality. Not shy of trying his luck from distance either, Vanspaul’s style of play meant that he was often in the thick of things all over the pitch.
NorthEast United FC might have endured a difficult Hero ISL campaign but there were a few bright spots for the Highlanders and none brighter than 19-year-old midfielder Lalengmawia. The tenacious midfielder broke into NorthEast’s first team while the Highlanders were dealing with a crippling injury crisis.
He went on to feature regularly for the Guwahati-based club and although his natural position is at the centre of the park, Lalengmawia is equally comfortable in a more attacking role or as a left-winger. He finished Hero ISL 2019-20 with an impressive passing accuracy of 80.45% and averaged 48.6 passes per match, while also showcasing his ability to take on and beat players.
After his Hero ISL debut in the 2018-19 season, Shubham Sarangi became a regular fixture in Odisha FC’s starting line-up last campaign. Hero ISL 2019-20 saw the fullback make 17 appearances for the newcomers and the youngster impressed with marauding runs from the back as well as defensive solidity. Besides bagging an assist, Sarangi made 97 clearances, executed 28 interceptions and completed 81 tackles.
The pacey fullback was key to Odisha’s fight for a semi-final spot and established himself as an important part of Josep Gombau’s side. He recently signed a contract extension with Odisha, keeping him at the club till 2023.
By the time Hero ISL 2019-20 ended, Sumit Rathi had already made a name for himself and he’s now considered one for the future for the Blue Tigers. After starting the season at right-back, Rathi impressed and soon established himself as an integral part of ATK’s backline. His confident displays at the back were enough to convince Antonio Lopez Habas to keep him in the starting XI.
With a passing accuracy of 73.97%, the versatile defender finished the season with 115 clearances, including 20 in the final against Chennaiyin FC. The youngster from Uttar Pradesh also picked up an assist during his 14 appearances and won the Hero ISL Emerging player of the League award on the same night that he lifted the coveted Hero ISL trophy with ATK.
Jessel Carneiro joined the two-time Hero ISL finalists Kerala Blasters FC before the 2019-20 season began and it’s safe to say that even though the Blasters endured a tough campaign, the 29-year-old did his reputation no harm.
Playing his debut Hero ISL season, Carneiro featured in all of Kerala’s matches, registering five assists and a passing accuracy of 72.65%. He also made 78 clearances, 22 interceptions and 22 blocks. Undoubtedly one of the standout players in the team last season, Carneiro looked confident everywhere on the pitch and also produced 55 crosses over the course of the campaign.