The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season has drawn to a close with ATK Mohun Bagan clinching their first-ever title by defeating Bengaluru FC in a dramatic encounter after Mumbai City FC had displayed unparalleled supremacy and secured their second League Winners’ Shield. With the fans back in the stands, the ninth edition of the Hero ISL was one-of-a-kind and there was no shortage of excitement.

The Hero ISL has witnessed some of the finest strikers and goal poachers over the years and it was no exception this time around. In fact, the attackers are one of the main reasons who make this competition exciting and so enjoyable to watch. This campaign saw a handful of attacking players perform with persistence to rise to the occasion when needed the most.

From netting goals in crunch time to contributing to the team’s holistic progress, forwards have proved themselves as the cream of the crop. There have been a whopping 345 goals scored in 117 matches this season, resulting in an average of 2.95 goals per match and as usual, the attackers were on the top of this goal contribution list.

Here's a look at the most effective forwards from the 2022-23 season:

Dimitri Petratos (ATK Mohun Bagan)

ATK Mohun Bagan ended an extraordinary campaign emerging as the winners of the Hero ISL trophy and Petratos who had an unbelievable season with the Mariners was almost unstoppable throughout the season.

From scoring a hat-trick against Kerala Blasters FC in the second game to netting a brace against Bengaluru FC in the final, Petratos was the most important cog in Juan Ferrando’s system. His versatility provided litheness to Ferrando’s attack.

The 30-year-old finished on top of the goal contribution list with 12 goals and seven assists to his name. Not just scoring goals and providing assists, the Australian also surpassed the likes of Greg Stewart and Hugo Boumous in terms of chances created. The forward created a whopping 61 chances and delivered 58 crosses.

To remind everyone this was Petratos ‘first season’ on Indian soil which saw him nearly winning the Golden Boot award. The numbers alone speak to the incredible amount of talent and consistency that he possesses. One would say, winning the Hero ISL trophy in quite some fashion is better than winning any individual award.

Diego Mauricio (Odisha FC)

Mauricio had a great outing with Odisha FC when he first played for them in the 2020-21 season and this time when he returned to the club for a second spell, he had an even better campaign.

His pace, clever turns, and quick thinking in and around the final third, coupled with his finishing and movement, made Mauricio a plausible threat up top for Odisha FC. The 31-year-old possesses all the traits of being a complete forward, a rarity in today’s modern football. His goal-scoring knack makes him a dream to work with for any coach.  He can score with both his feet, and his head, from close-range to long-range, from set-pieces to open play.

The Brazilian is certainly one of the Hero ISL’s best forwards who scored an impressive 12 goals this season to not only bag the Golden Boot award but also help the Juggernauts reach the playoffs for the first time in their history. The forward averaged 0.57 goals per game and also bagged four assists to his name.

Cleiton Silva (East Bengal FC)

Despite East Bengal FC’s struggle to find the right balance over the course of the season, Silva yet again had a remarkable season at an individual level. What separates him from the rest of his teammates is the fact that he is a well-rounded footballer who has a tremendous ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis.

The 36-year-old was magnificent this season netting 12 goals and providing one assist in 20 appearances. Known for his composure in front of the goal, Silva has scored 0.60 goals per game and finished second in the goal-scoring list behind his national compatriot Mauricio.

From scoring a stoppage-time free-kick against Bengaluru FC to scoring the winner against Kerala Blasters FC, the talisman came to the rescue again and again for the Red and Gold Brigade.

The Brazilian greatly impressed everyone with his performance and was given a fresh one-year contract which he seemed happy to sign given the way the team performed with him throughout the season. The Torchbearers will no doubt expect to see more of the same or even better from their talisman next season.

Jorge Pereyra Diaz (Mumbai City FC)

Mumbai City FC strolled their way to the second League Winners’ Shield as every player stood up to the event and delivered. Diaz was chief amongst them.

The Argentine started his journey with the Islanders just from where he ended with the Blasters last season. He didn’t take much time to gel with his teammates and make his presence felt in his new team.

The 32-year-old rose to the occasion several times and made decisive contributions to secure crucial points for his side. His movements inside the box were the stuff that must be taught to aspiring forwards. Diaz is an impeccable and efficient finisher with his head and feet who netted 11 goals and recorded six assists in 20 appearances for the Islanders this term.

The forward proved his doubters wrong by bagging three goals and an assist against his former side Kerala Blasters FC. He showed just how vital he was to Buckingham’s side this season with his sharp goal-scoring prowess.

Lallianzuala Chhangte (Mumbai City FC)

Chhangte was perhaps the most-improved player under Des Buckingham’s management. The forward had a trailblazing season which he will surely remember for a long, long time.

The turnaround in Chhangte’s form was extraordinary considering how the previous two seasons panned out for him. He enjoyed a steady climb through the ranks of Mumbai City FC and he truly went from strength to strength this campaign.

Chhangte was awarded the Hero of the League award after his stellar performance this season which included 10 goals and six assists from 22 appearances, his best-ever season in the Hero ISL in terms of goal contribution. He became only the second Indian player after Sunil Chhetri to win the Hero of the League award since the inception of Hero ISL in 2014.

The 25-year-old was of the best ball carriers in the league among the Indian contingent who struck up a great partnership with Rahul Bheke down the right flank and the duo produced a constant threat to the opposition while playing together.

Noah Wail Sadaoui (FC Goa)

Sadaoui played a pivotal role up front for the Gaurs, especially when Alvaro Vazquez struggled to make an impact on the pitch. The Moroccan attacking midfielder has been played as a left-winger, a right-winger and a centre-forward by Carlos Pena this season but the former was figured out to be a better player out wide than he is upfront.

Sadaoui's blazing pace and trickery made him one of the most dangerous players in the league when he was given space to run into. He continued to be a nightmare for every defender all throughout the season. When he had the ball at his feet, it was very difficult for the opposition to guess which way he would go. The attacker truly came to the fore with his playmaking skills as he bagged the ‘KFC Street Baller of League’ award at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old finished on top of the assists chart with nine assists. Amassing 18 goal+assists from 20 appearances, Sadaoui had the second-best goal contribution in the league this season, only behind Petratos.

Dimitrios Diamantakos (Kerala Blasters FC)

Diamantakos had to wait until the fifth game to get his first Hero ISL goal on the 5th of November against NorthEast United FC. But since then, there was no looking back for the Greek forward. As the season progressed, Diamantakos stepped in and started scoring goals routinely to make sure the Blasters qualify for the playoffs with ease.

The Diaz-Vazquez duo accounted for almost half of the Blasters’ total goals last season. With both of them leaving the side in the summer window, Kerala Blasters FC needed someone to fill those big boots and they certainly found the answer in Diamantakos.

The forward worked tirelessly from back to front, paired up with Adrian Luna, and always possessed a bigger threat in the penalty area. The striker found goals from inside tight spaces whilst under pressure and proved to be quite a clinical finisher.

The 30-year-old ended the 2022-23 Hero ISL season with 10 goals and three assists to his name from 21 appearances and had a conversion rate of 21%.