Hero ISL 2022-23: Team of Matchweek 1
The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) returned with a bang with fans who returned to the stadiums after a gap of two years making it a spectacle at all the venues.
The players too did their bit to match the passion in the stands with quality on the pitch as we saw some cracking contests unfold.
Matchweek 1 of Hero ISL saw 19 goals being scored in five games as the attacks dominated the defences with just one clean sheet being kept in Matchweek 1.
It all started off in Kochi in front of a packed house as Kerala Blasters exploded into life in the final 20 minutes of the match to see off a resilient East Bengal FC team 3-1.
In the second game, Bengaluru FC left it late to beat a NorthEast United FC side that came very close to stealing a point at the Sree Kanteerava stadium where the West Block Blues were in full voice.
Defending champions Hyderabad FC and Mumbai City FC then dazzled in an entertaining 3-3 draw in Pune where despite it being a neutral venue, fans made their presence felt.
Hero ISL then returned to Kolkata but it wasn’t a happy homecoming for ATK Mohun Bagan who were beaten by an inspired Chennaiyin FC.
The Matchweek 1 ended in thrilling fashion as Odisha FC produced a stunning comeback from 0-2 down to beat Jamshedpur FC to silence a packed house at The Furnace.
As we head straight into Matchweek 2, here is the Team of Matchweek 1 based on the Hero ISL website rating points.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC): 7.41
The only goalkeeper in Matchweek 1 to have kept a clean sheet was made to work hard for it and he did step up to the plate with some top saved to deny NorthEast United FC from getting on the scoresheet and ensuring that Bengaluru FC begin Hero ISL 2022-23 with a win.
Right centre-back - Alan Costa (Bengaluru FC): 9.72
The highest-rated player of the MW1 and for good reason as he did all parts of his job to perfection. He was a rock at the back for Bengaluru FC helping them keep a clean sheet. But when it was needed he popped up with the winning goal in the dying minutes of the match to win his side all three points against NorthEast United FC
Centre-back - Sandesh Jhingan (Bengaluru FC): 6.95
Making his debut for the club in the Hero ISL, Jhingan was at his typical best in central defence as he constantly thwarted opponents’ attacks and was excellent with the ball at his feet, contributing to the clean sheet and a win for Bengaluru FC.
Left centre-back - Roshan Naorem (Bengaluru FC): 7.25
Roshan Naorem completes an all-Bengaluru FC backline. He may not be a centre-back but a Team of the Week would feel incomplete without the full-back who was a constant threat for NorthEast United FC down that left side and caused them all sorts of problems with his pace and athleticism, especially in the first half. His performance deserves a place in the Team of the Week.
Right Midfielder - Ivan Kaliuzhnyi (Kerala Blasters FC): 9.18
He came, he saw, and he conquered. Ivan Kaliuzhnyi lived up to the old saying in some fashion. Having come on as a substitute against East Bengal FC, the Ukrainian midfielder scored two stunning goals to take Kerala Blasters FC beyond East Bengal FC’s reach. The way he bulldozed his way through the East Bengal FC midfield time and again doesn’t bode well for the rest of the Hero ISL.
Central Midfielder - Alex Lima (East Bengal FC): 8.18
The opening game became all about the Kerala Blasters FC and their fans but East Bengal FC did play a big part in that opening match and Alex Lima who was making his Hero ISL debut for the club was involved in every attack the Red and Gold brigade launched. He also scored the goal that briefly brought them back in the match and was a constant threat to the Kerala Blasters FC defence.
Central Midfielder - Joao Victor (Hyderabad FC): 8.86
Joao Victor once again proved why he is one of the best midfielders in the Hero ISL with a superb performance against Mumbai City FC. He twice gave Hyderabad FC the lead on the night only to see it wiped out but he once again pulled the strings for Hyderabad FC in attack and Mumbai City FC didn’t always have the answers.
Left Midfielder - Adrian Luna (Kerala Blasters FC): 8.91
Before Kaliuzhnyi came on and weaved his magic, it was Adrian Luna who had broken the East Bengal FC resistance with a deft finish that got the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Kochi up on its feet. Luna created four chances in the match, more than any player on the pitch and was at the heart of everything Kerala Blasters FC created.
Right winger - Greg Stewart (Mumbai City FC): 8.47
Another masterful performance from last year’s Hero of the League making his debut for Mumbai City FC. He not only got on the scoresheet but was a threat to the Hyderabad FC backline all along. He took the Mumbai City FC attack to a different level and will be a big threat to teams in the upcoming matches.
Left winger - Rahim Ali (Chennaiyin FC): 8.18
Rahim Ali scored the winning goal for Chennaiyin FC against ATK Mohun Bagan and it was a very cool finish under extreme pressure from the Indian forward who worked tirelessly all game to not allow the ATK Mohun Bagan defence any breathing space. The goal at the end was a just reward for his efforts and quality.
Centre-forward - Diego Mauricio (Odisha FC): 9.15
Odisha FC’s star striker delivered what he was brought in for – goals. Diego Mauricio swung it into the back of the net with Odisha FC 0-2 down to spark off a comeback that he finished with a poacher’s finish late into the match to win it 3-2 for the Juggernauts. It was not just an exhibition of his predatory instincts in front of the goals but also proof that he can stitch the attack together. Mauricio is up and running in Odisha FC colours again and it spells trouble for the rest of the Hero ISL.