From Ogbeche to Krishna: Forward to watch out for in Hero ISL 2022-23

Scoring goals is one of the most difficult aspects in football and having a forward who can find the back of the net and can be relied upon is a wonderful asset to have for any team.

Over the years in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) history, we’ve witnessed plenty of forwards who have played a massive role in their teams’ success.

Two such notable examples from last season are Greg Stewart and Bart Ogbeche, winners of the Hero ISL Golden Ball and the Hero ISL Golden Boot respectively, who single-handedly won games for their sides as Jamshedpur FC clinched the League Winners Shield while Hyderabad FC won the Hero ISL title.

This summer, all eleven Hero ISL clubs have bolstered their attacking line with some big-name signings, who will be expected to pump in the goals. With just few days to go for the Hero ISL 2022-23 season, let us take a some forwards that you should definitely watch out for.

Liston Colaco (ATK Mohun Bagan)

A youngster who has gone from being an impact substitute to a regularly starter and has grown in stature of the years, Liston Colaco was an absolute hit for ATK Mohun Bagan last season.

The Goan forward joined the Mariners for a hefty price tag and there was pressure on him to deliver, but he lived up to expectations emphatically, finishing the Hero ISL 2021-22 season as the top Indian goalscorer with eight strikes to his name, while supplying four assists.

Colaco’s goal-poaching ability, set-piece mastery and his ability to produce moments of brilliance out of nowhere made him stand out from his contemporaries. 

Alvaro Vazquez (FC Goa)

Image Courtesy: FC Goa Media

Contributing eight goals and two assists last season, Vazquez set the league on fire last season as Kerala Blasters FC waltzed their way to the Hero ISL final. Not forgetting his outrageous 59-metre strike against NorthEast United FC which will be remembered for a long time by KBFC fans.

The Spaniard will hope to carry on from where he left off last season, this time with FC Goa, after signing for the Gaurs in the summer. While Vazquez might not be an out-and-out striker, his link-up play and ability to create spaces in tight areas will come in handy as Carlos Pena’s side look to bounce back from last season.

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)

Image Courtesy: Bengaluru FC media

Four goals and an assist from 20 games. Sunil Chhetri had an underwhelming campaign last season, which was his least productive Hero ISL season in terms of goal contributions.

But as the old adage goes - form is temporary and class is permanent and it holds true for Chhetri. The all-time leading Indian goalscorer has single-handedly won games for club and country umpteen times and has shown no signs of stopping even at 37.

Having played a crucial role in his team’s recent Durand Cup triumph, Chhetri will have a point to prove from last season, and with Roy Krishna now at BFC, expect the India captain to better his tally from last season. 

Daniel Chima (Jamshedpur FC)

As SC East Bengal struggled to find their feet early on last season, striker Daniel Chima’s contribution was limited to just a couple of strikes.    

However, a change of club brought about a change of fortunes, when Chima joined Jamshedpur FC in the January transfer window. The move turned out to be a masterstroke as the Nigerian struck seven goals in just nine games, eventually winning the League Winners Shield with the Men of Steel. 

Having already proved his mettle to his new employers, Chima will be expected to contribute more goals this season in the absence of Greg Stewart as JFC look to defend the League Winners Shield.

Bartholomew Ogbeche (Hyderabad FC)

Chipping in with 18 goals and an assist, Bart Ogbeche was arguably the most lethal striker in the league as he enjoyed his best-ever season in the Hero ISL.

Big Bart broke records for fun as the season went by that also saw him clinch the Golden Boot award as Hyderabad FC clinched their first-ever title. Not only that, his heroics saw him become the leading goalscorer in the league.

Overall, Hyderabad FC ended the league stage with most goals, and they will be relying on the experience of Bart to repeat the same again.

Greg Stewart (Mumbai City FC)

Finishing fifth last season after doing an unprecedented double in the Hero ISL 2021-22 season, Mumbai City FC lacked the cutting edge in attack last season when it came to decisive moments. The arrival of Greg Stewart, who was awarded the Golden Ball last season, will offer much-needed spark for the Islanders in attack.

With an eye for goal and his ability to create moments of magic out of the blue such as his stunning free-kick against Kerala Blasters, Stewart contributed 10 goals and as many assists for League Winners Shield Jamshedpur FC last term.

Now supported by a talented midfield and in a fluid possession-based system, Stewart could thrive for the Islanders.

Roy Krishna (Bengaluru FC)

Image Courtesy: Bengaluru FC media

ATK Mohun Bagan raised eyebrows when they decided to let go of Roy Krishna, a former Hero ISL winner with a truckload of experience and a player who offers more than just goals.

Last season, the Fijian failed to establish himself as a regular starter under head coach Juan Ferrando, but Krishna still contributed some vital goals, finishing the season with seven goals and four assists.

In Krishna, the Blues not only have a proven goalscorer but also someone who has a fair understanding of the league. And the striker seems to have seamlessly fitted in Simon Grayson’s plans as evident in the Durand Cup, scoring three goals in their title-winning campaign.

If Krishna alongside Chhetri can form a potent partnership upfront, it will be difficult to keep BFC quiet.

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