From Angulo to Krishna to Jonathas, a look at the prime contenders for Hero ISL Golden Boot

Photo credit:Mumbai City FC

Football is all about the big moments and there is no bigger moment in the sport than a goal. It is thus one of the most fundamental reasons why goalscorers across the globe are celebrated with a lot more vigour than the rest of the players.

It is no different in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) where the race for the Golden Boot or just simply put -- the top goalscorer in the competition -- is so eagerly followed by fans.

The Golden Boot along with the Hero of the Tournament, and Golden Glove are the biggest individual prizes on offer in the Hero ISL and the race for it is often as exciting as the battles for the biggest prize.

FC Goa’s Igor Angulo won the prize in the 2021-22 Hero ISL season scoring 14 goals in 21 matches. The Spaniard, having switched to defending champions Mumbai City FC will have eyes on the prize again.

Like last year and like every other year in the Hero ISL, the competition for this award will be stiff and it will take a remarkable effort for any player to walk away with it at the end of the season.

As the season nears its first kick-off, here’s a look at the prime contenders.

Igor Angulo (Mumbai City FC)

Photo credit: Mumbai City FC

The 37-year-old Spaniard may not be getting any younger but he showed last season that his instincts in front of goal remain as sharp as ever. A typical fox in the box, Angulo will thrive in the Mumbai City FC side that has creative players in abundance. His golden boot chances will once again depend on how many minutes coach Des Buckingham affords him on the pitch, but if he can play most part of the season, he will be there or thereabout again this season.

Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)

The Fijian missed out on the golden boot in the last two seasons despite having scored the same number of goals as the eventual winner. Having scored 29 goals in the last two seasons, the 31-year-old ATK Mohun Bagan striker will be determined to go one step better and win a deserved Golden Boot award this season. His chances will be boosted by the arrival of creative midfielder Hugo Boumous from Mumbai City FC who is certain to help the ATK Mohun Bagan create more chances than usual.

Jonathas de Jesus (Odisha FC)

The Brazilian striker arrives with a big reputation having scored 21 goals in 61 La Liga games while playing for Elche and Real Socieadad. The 32-year-old will come into the ISL on the back of a prolific season playing for Hatta in the UAE Pro League where he scored six goals in 10 games. With Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Nandhakumar Sekar and Javi Hernandez in midfield, Jonathas is expected to get great service and might end up on top of the pile in his debut season in the Hero ISL.

Airam Cabrera (FC Goa)

Three of the last four Golden Boot winners have been FC Goa players and there’s no reason why Airam Cabrera can’t add to that list. The Gaurs are a team with a settled style of play under coach Juan Ferrando and pride themselves on playing attacking football. Cabrera who is vastly experienced having played in Spain, Poland and Cyprus would be expected to hit the ground running in Indian football too.

Nerijus Valskis (Jamshedpur FC)

The Golden Boot winner in Hero ISL 2019-20 campaign with Chennaiyin FC, Valskis couldn’t replicate the feat in his first season with Jamshedpur FC as he scored just eight goals. But with the experience of a season with the Red Miners, Valskis can’t be discounted as a genuine candidate especially with the likes of Jordan Murray and Ishan Pandita joining the team. The presence of a striking partner is certain to help Valskis who won’t have all the attention of the defenders on him.

Bartholomew Ogbeche (Hyderabad FC)

Ogbeche is a proven goalscorer in the Hero ISL and is the third in the all-time list in the league’s history with 35 goals in 57 matches. Likely to be the main man for Hyderabad FC this season who have a plethora of young attacking talent to feed him, Ogbeche could be back in the reckoning for the Golden boot award.

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)

Photo credit: Bengaluru FC

The Indian football captain has never won the Hero ISL Golden Boot and his goals have dried up a bit in recent seasons but with Bengaluru FC adding more creative talent during a squad revamp ahead of the new season, Chhetri’s prospects of becoming the first Indian to win the Hero ISL Golden Boot can’t be discounted. History has shown that you write off Chhetri at your own peril.

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