Top five custodians of Hero ISL 2020-21
A lot has changed since Hero Indian Super League’s (Hero ISL) inception in 2014 when the footballing revolution in the country began. While there have been plenty of improvements all across the pitch as well as in terms of infrastructure off it, one area that has improved by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years is the quality of Indian custodians. Having relied on foreign goalkeepers for most of the earlier campaigns, the past few seasons have witnessed a change in approach with Indian custodians being given a lot of importance and opportunities to improve between the sticks. The recently concluded campaign saw plenty of top performers in goal and here we look at the top five shot-stoppers.
Arindam Bhattacharja may not have enjoyed the best of finals on Saturday night, but there can be no doubt as to how important he was in goal for ATK Mohun Bagan over the course of the season. Winner of the Golden Glove in Hero ISL 2020-21, Arindam conceded 19 goals in 23 games, making 59 saves along the way and keeping 10 clean sheets. He played a key role in making ATK Mohun Bagan the meanest defence in the league and his minutes per goal conceded of 108.95 was better than any other custodian in the league.
Amrinder Singh had to adapt his game to Mumbai City FC’s style of play as head coach Sergio Lobera insisted that the Islanders had to pass their way out from the back, making the Indian custodian a key part of their build-up play. While Amrinder has admitted that adapting to Lobera’s style wasn’t easy, he can be proud of the job he did for the Islanders. He made 61 saves, conceding 21 times and keeping 10 clean sheets to boot in Hero ISL 2020-21. His minutes per goal conceded of 100 meant that Arindam pipped him to the Golden Glove, but Amrinder won’t mind that considering he won both the League Winners Shield as well as the Hero ISL trophy with Mumbai City FC.
Jamshedpur FC endured an inconsistent campaign as they failed to qualify for the semi-finals despite having the chance of doing so towards the business end of the league. Eventually, it was a lack of goal-scoring that hurt them but defensively they were solid for most of the campaign and a lot of that can be put down to the assurance of having TP Rehenesh in goal. He made 54 saves in 19 matches, keeping eight clean sheets and conceding once every 89.11 minutes. Rehenesh had a save percentage of 73.97% and also caught the ball 81 times.
Laxmikant Kattimani enjoyed a solid season in goal for Hyderabad FC as the Telangana-based club narrowly missed out on qualifying for the semis in the penultimate game of the league stage. Kattimani made for an assured presence in goal for most of Hyderabad FC’s season and had a save percentage of 68.42%. Hyderabad FC’s organized defence meant that he was required to make just 26 saves and conceded 12 times in 14 games. Kattimani managed to keep a clean sheet in six of those games and let in a goal every 105 minutes.
Vishal Kaith had a busy season with plenty to do and he saved Chennaiyin FC’s blushes on numerous occasions. During his 20 matches for Chennaiyin FC in Hero ISL 2020-21, Kaith conceded 23 times and made 51 saves. He conceded a goal after every 78.26 minutes and had a save percentage of 68.91%. Despite playing behind an often-susceptible backline, Kaith managed to keep six clean sheets for the Marina Machans.