Guardian Angels: Best goalkeepers from the Hero ISL 2022-23 season
The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season produced some of the finest, entertaining footballing action in the nation. While the campaign was defined by some edge-of-the-seat thrillers, jaw-dropping strikes, goalkeeper also delivered sensational performances in front of the goal line. Protecting the goal through each minute, goalkeepers go way beyond just their saves and heroics, and form an integral part of the team.
One can have exceptional players in each outfield position, but a great team always demands the presence of a confident goalkeeper. Keepers aren’t there to only make saves, but also have the responsibility to organise the team's defensive structure and ensure there is good communication between the backline.
“As a goalkeeper, you need to be good at organising the people in front of you and motivating them. You need to see what's going on and react to the threats. Just like a good manager in the business." This quote by legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton holds true in football, and it is no different in the Hero ISL.
With yet another exceptional end to a scintillating Hero ISL season, let’s take a look at some of the best goalkeepers from the 2022-23 season:
Vishal Kaith (ATK Mohun Bagan)
A player who needs no introduction, a keeper whose rise to the Jindal Panther Golden Glove is simply commendable, in a team that fought all the odds to lift the acclaimed Hero ISL title, Vishal Kaith has been a standout performer for ATK Mohun Bagan throughout this season.
𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗙𝗟𝗬𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗞𝗔𝗜𝗧𝗛!🔥— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 20, 2023
A number of 🔝 performances & clean sheets throughout the season earned @vishalkaith01 the Jindal Panther Golden Glove Award! 🥇
Here are some of his best saves! 🧱#HeroISL #LetsFootball #ATKMohunBagan #VishalKaith | @atkmohunbaganfc pic.twitter.com/VLkqfsNDCE
His mind-boggling 12 clean sheets across 24 games – averaging a clean sheet every second game – is nothing short of magical. Registering the most number of shutouts in a single Hero ISL season and five more than his nearest competitors certainly deserves a huge applause. Furthermore, the custodian has the second lowest minutes to goal ratio (clocking at 115.53 minutes per goal), behind only Hyderabad FC’s Gurmeet Singh.
For the record, stepping into the shoes of a former Golden Glove winner in Amrinder Singh at ATKMB and delivering a tremendously successful season, individually as well as collectively, is a testament of the goalkeeper’s determination, dedication, and hard-work. Penalty saves, clearances, high claims, punches, distribution, the 26-year-old has shown immense improvement in all sectors of goalkeeping and has been a force to be reckoned with this campaign.
Gurmeet Singh (Hyderabad FC)
Summoned between the sticks as a replacement for the injured first-choice goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani, Gurmeet has done a colossal job in guarding the goal for Hyderabad FC. The 23-year-old – who had sporadic outings with NorthEast United FC in his previous campaigns – had a breakthrough season under head coach Manolo Marquez.
.@Gurmeetgk12 showcased his 🔝 goalkeeping skills against the Mariners 🙌🏻#ATKMBHFC #HeroISL #HeroISLPlayoffs #LetsFootball #HyderabadFC #GurmeetSingh #ISLMoments | @HydFCOfficial pic.twitter.com/K59duvuGKP— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 13, 2023
Having played 1490 minutes across 14 matches this season, the custodian faced 50 shots on goal and has saved 41 of them, letting in just nine goals. Averaging 143.33 minutes per goal ratio, Gurmeet has matched FC Goa’s Jan Seda’s minutes per goal tally in the inaugural 2014 season.
Despite his side’s shortcomings off their own lofty ambitions, Gurmeet has been a true compatriot in the yellow of Hyderabad FC under Marquez. The shot-stopper has been promising and can pose to be a worthy contender for the first-choice mantle at the club in the upcoming season.
Phurba Lachenpa (Mumbai City FC)
Lachenpa played an crucial role after replacing former goalkeeper Arminder Singh in the penalty shootouts of the semi-final against FC Goa in the 2020-21 campaign and guided Mumbai City FC to their first ever Hero ISL double - League Winners’ Shield as well as the Hero ISL title. However, the goalkeeper had to wait an entirety of the 2021-22 season to show his capabilities as the Sikkim-born player featured just thrice in that campaign.
#PhurbaLachenpa was on another level 🎚️💪🏻#HeroISL #HeroISLPlayoffs #LetsFootball #MumbaiCityFC pic.twitter.com/DqNdp8pk6U— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 15, 2023
Cut to the 2022-23 season, Lachenpa has been absolutely magnificent in guarding the goal for the Islanders and has been a vital cog in the side’s second-ever League Winners’ Shield. Replacing Mohammad Nawaz in goal, Lachenpa earned the trust of head coach Des Buckingham and reaped rewards by performing exceptionally well that led them to the Shield triumph.
The shot-stopper made 64 saves, third-highest among all goalkeepers and behind only Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Vishal Kaith. Mumbai City FC have been unstoppable in the attack but on the defensive front, Lachenpa’s heroics have come clutch. Having kept seven clean sheets, same as Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Gurmeet Singh, Lachenpa has taken his goalkeeping to another level and has deservedly earned himself a call-up to the Indian senior team by head coach Igor Stimac in the Hero Tri-nation International Football Tournament in Imphal.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)
The Blues’ numero uno remained undaunted and produced terrific performances all season long, making 71 saves, the highest among all goalkeepers this season. The ever-present face in goal for Bengaluru FC, Gurpreet kept his head up despite the side’s unsatisfactory performances in the first half of the season.
An outstanding finger tip save by @GurpreetGK denied @anwarali04 a stunning goal! 🧤#BFCFCG #HeroISL #LetsFootball #BengaluruFC #GurpreetSinghSandhu | @bengalurufc pic.twitter.com/xYmWYhl02j— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) February 23, 2023
Clocking 2228 minutes, the custodian featured in every game for Bengaluru FC and has clocked the most number of minutes than any other goalkeeper this season. His nimble reflexes coupled with his leadership in front of the goal has been one of the main reasons behind Bengaluru FC’s resurgence.
The only goalkeeper to have won two Golden Gloves in a row in Hero ISL history – in the 2018-19 and the 2019-20 season – Gurpreet is still standing tall and strong, and is prepared to put up a fight every time he takes the field.