Startling fireworks: Surprise packages of Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season
Unexpected, unpredictable, and unforgettable. There were some performances in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season that took the footballing world by an unforeseen storm.
There were novice names who stamped their signature with astonishing performances, while there were some clubs who had a hidden card up their sleeve for the final act of the magic and some individuals who showcased an unprecedented skill, leaving everybody shell-shocked.
Here are some of the mind-boggling performances that headlined the 2021-22 season:
Kiyan Nassiri’s Kolkata Derby Hat-trick
Nassiri etched his name in the annuls of Kolkata Derby history with one of the standout performances that has ever been witnessed in this contest. He arrived as a substitute when ATK Mohun Bagan were trailing behind by a goal but a hat-trick in under thirty minutes from him changed the course of the high-pressure match. He looked calm, composed and custom-built for such an occasion, setting up a solid foundation for him to take his career forward with more surprises to come.
Daniel Chima’s impactful move to Jamshedpur FC
An aggressor by nature on the pitch, Chima’s force was dealt with relative ease while he was in the SC East Bengal set-up, lacking support in the final third. However, things fell right in place for the Nigerian when he arrived at Jamshedpur FC, where he found himself alongside Greg Stewart and Jordan Murray who helped him maximise his potential in the front. From two goals in the first 10 matches for SC East Bengal, Chima racked up seven goals from nine matches for Jamshedpur FC and also lifted the League Winners’ Shield.
Kerala Blasters FC's run to the final
Although Kerala Blasters FC fans encountered heartbreak at the final of the Hero ISL, however, reaching the main event after a gap of four seasons was an achievement to celebrate. Last season, Blasters finished tenth on the points table, languishing just above bottom-placed Odisha FC. The Ivan Vukomanovic-led side managed to embark upon a 10-match unbeaten streak after losing their opening clash against ATK Mohun Bagan. The momentum meant the Blasters realised they are prepared to go above and beyond. An experienced lot of Adrian Luna, Alvaro Vazquez, Harmanjyot Khabra, and Jorge Diaz with rising young stars in Sahal Abdul Samad, Ruivah Hormipam and PS Gill enabled fans to turn this dream into reality.
Roshan Naorem's rise
The Emerging Player of the season, Roshan Naorem signified that age is just a statistic that was inconsequential to the skill and talent he possesses. Under head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli, Roshan felt at home playing without pressure despite playing in a new role on the flanks as a fullback. Roshan ended the season with 77 tackles, 27 interceptions, 40 clearances and 37 blocks to highlight his memorable campaign along with a goal and seven assists. His recent exploits earned him a national call-up, impressing India’s head coach Igor Stimac where he has continued his purple patch.
PS Gill's heroics in goal
The winner of the 2021-22 season’s Golden Glove, Prabhsukhan Gill braved the duties as a custodian with an impressive record of seven clean sheets, the most by any goalkeeper this season. The youngster also made 47 saves this season, with a save percentage of almost 70%. The shot-stopper battled hard in the final to help his side clinch their first Hero ISL trophy with five saves, however, losing by a whisker in the penalty shootout. He was one of the reasons that Kerala Blasters FC reached the final in the first place with his consistency and stability at the back.