Game-changers to keep an eye on in the final of Hero ISL 2020-21
After what’s been an exhilarating campaign, Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 comes to a close on Saturday as Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan cross swords at the Fatorda Stadium for the prestigious trophy. Both sides have a galaxy of stars in their ranks and they will be eager to make their presence felt in their bid to be crowned champions of Hero ISL 2020-21. Ahead of the biggest match of the campaign, here’s a look at some of the players who can be expected to make game-changing contributions for their respective teams.
Bartholomew Ogbeche will be playing his first-ever Hero ISL final on Saturday and the Nigerian forward will be keen to leave an impression on the contest. Despite not always being in the starting line-up, Ogbeche has found the back of the net eight times this season, including twice against ATK Mohun Bagan during Mumbai City FC’s league-stage matches with the Mariners. He will back himself to get on the scoresheet having ended the league stage positively with three goals in the last two Mumbai City FC games prior to the semi-finals. Even though he didn’t find the net in the semis, Ogbeche was heavily involved for the Islanders and scored in the penalty shootout against FC Goa to help book a berth in the final for his team.
Hugo Boumous is the Islanders’ main playmaker and he’ll be the one who will be entrusted to carve open ATK Mohun Bagan’s mean defence. Boumous’ ability to pick a pass and carry the ball with him is second to none in the Islanders’ camp and keeping him quiet will be of utmost importance to the Mariners. He has scored thrice, including once in the semi-final, and will be eager to make a telling contribution to his side’s fortunes in the final. Boumous’ ability to beat players and unlock opposition defences has seen him create innumerable chances this season, which is why it isn’t much of a surprise that he tops the leaderboard for most assists (7) by any Mumbai City FC player.
Ahmed Jahouh’s importance to Mumbai City FC cannot be overstated. The lynchpin in midfield for Sergio Lobera’s team, Jahouh’s ability to dictate the tempo of a match from midfield is what makes him indispensable for the Islanders. Importance on both ends of the pitch, no Mumbai City FC player has made more passes (1413) and tackles (165) than Jahouh. He can also be devastating while joining in during attacks and isn’t shy about trying his luck from distance. As assists go, only Boumous has set up his teammates for more goals than Jahouh (5) among Mumbai City FC players. The last time Jahouh appeared in a Hero ISL final he received a red card and you can rest assured that he’ll be hoping to have a more positive impact on the final come Saturday.
With 14 goals to his name, Roy Krishna is one of the deadliest strikers in Hero ISL 2020-21. Currently second to Igor Angulo on the Golden Boot charts, the Fijian just needs a goal to beat the Spaniard to the trophy. However, he has never been one to chase after personal laurels as he displayed with his performance in both legs of the semi-finals. Krishna assisted all three goals that were scored by ATK Mohun Bagan in their Semi-final 2 clash against NorthEast United FC. His seven assists is the joint-second-most this season, highlighting his selflessness as a player while leading his team’s forward line.
Another trait that makes him one of the best players in the league is his ability to score crucial goals. He scored in both the Kolkata derbies against their city rivals SC East Bengal, making him an instant favourite among the ATK Mohun Bagan fans.
David Williams has been one of ATK Mohun Bagan’s stand-out players this season, having scored five goals and assisted two. It might not seem much compared to Krishna, but whenever the Australian has found the net this season, the Mariners have not lost a game. Williams’ reputation as a big game player got further enhanced this season. Last season, with ATK FC, it was his two goals in the second leg against Bengaluru FC that helped them to the final. He repeated a somewhat similar feat this season with ATK Mohun Bagan as well, scoring in both legs of the semis to ensure that the Mariners made it to the final.
One of the most improved players this season has been Manvir Singh. The India international made the switch from FC Goa to ATK Mohun Bagan ahead of Hero ISL 2020-21 and has repaid the faith put in him by Antonio Lopez Habas. This has been Manvir’s most productive season in terms of goal contributions with six goals and three assists to his name. A lot of this improvement can be put down to his increased gametime on the pitch. Under Sergio Lobera with the Gaurs, Manvir made 47 appearances, but only seven of them were starts.
Habas has shown a lot more confidence in the 25-year-old forward. In his 15 starts and 22 appearances for the Kolkata-based outfit, Manvir is now the second highest Indian goalscorer this season, just two goals behind Bengaluru FC’s Sunil Chhetri. His goal in the second-leg semi-final clash against NorthEast United FC turned out to be the difference between the two sides. Playing against his former head coach, Manvir will be eyeing his maiden Hero ISL trophy to cap off a brilliant individual season for himself.