A look at each team’s captain in the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22

We are within sniffing distance from the start of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22. With the pandemic threat still looming over, the entire league is set to be played in Goa, inside a biosecure bubble. Like the previous season, ATK Mohun Bagan will lock horns with Kerala Blasters FC in the curtain-raiser on Friday, November 19, at the Fatorda Stadium, in Goa.

As the teams brace up for the football extravaganza, let us have a look at the captains of each side for the 2021-22 Hero ISL.

ATK Mohun Bagan - Roy Krishna

With 29 goals and 14 assists across the last two seasons, the Fijian goal-machine has already stamped his authority in the Hero ISL. Now, it’s time for him to carry the legacy forward and steer ATK Mohun Bagan to greater heights, especially on the continental stage. The former A-League star is already the spearhead in the forward line, while the management has shown faith in his leadership qualities and awarded him the captain’s armband for the second consecutive season.

Apart from the prolific striker, veteran defender Pritam Kotal and Subhashish Bose have also been named as captains for the season. The club is one of the few teams in the Hero ISL to have appointed more than one captain for the season.

Bengaluru FC - Sunil Chhetri

The man who needs no introduction - Sunil Chhetri, will be leading Bengaluru FC in the upcoming season, as he has been doing all these years. Even at this ripe age, the talismanic striker managed to score eight goals last season, the most by an Indian, while providing a couple of assists. With the Blues failing to make it to the semi-finals last time around, they would be more than eager to make amends this time, while Chhetri, who was recently conferred with the prestigious Khel Ratna award, will be at the centre of all the action.

Chennaiyin FC - Anirudh Thapa

Ever since his debut in 2016, the midfielder has thrived at Chennaiyin FC, grown and matured as a player, and has been through the thick and thin. Anirudh Thapa played a pivotal role in their 2017-18 Hero ISL title win, earning the AIFF Emerging Player of the Year in the same term. Now a regular in the Indian national team, Anirudh Thapa has been bestowed the responsibility of leading the side whom he has already represented for five seasons.

FC Goa - Edu Bedia

Edu Bedia is FC Goa’s longest-serving foreigner, having started his voyage back in 2017 and is set to represent the Hero ISL side for the fifth straight season. The Spaniard has been irreplaceable for the Gaurs in the midfield and has been the fulcrum of the bulk of the attacks.

Bedia’s guile and trickery in the playmaking zone inspired the side to each of their three major achievements - 2019 Hero Super Cup, 2019-20 Hero ISL League Winners Shield and 2021 Durand Cup. With him already reaching the stature of being a club legend, there was no one more deserving for the captain’s armband, apart from the former La Liga star.

Apart from Edu Bedia, three players - Ivan Gonzalez, Brandon Fernandes and Seriton Fernandes have also been appointed as reserve captains.

Hyderabad FC - Joao Victor

It was only last season that the Brazilian made his debut in the Hero ISL for Hyderabad FC. Joao Victor, under the guidance of Spanish gaffer Manolo Marquez, proved to be an instrumental figure at the heart of the midfield, netting thrice and assisting twice throughout the season. While he was already the vice-captain last season, the Nizams not only retained the playmaker but also handed him the captain’s responsibility for the upcoming season of the Hero ISL.

Jamshedpur FC - Peter Hartley

After an underwhelming 2019-20 season, which saw Jamshedpur FC concede 35 goals, the management secured the services of experienced defender Peter Hartley from Scottish top-tier side Motherwell to steady the ship. The investment had an immediate effect, as the Red Miners conceded fewer goals and also kept eight clean sheets in the entire season, which was a club record itself. Retained for yet another year, Jamshedpur FC did not hesitate to appoint the 33-year old centre-back as their skipper for the upcoming season.

Kerala Blasters FC - Jessel Carneiro

Jessel Carneiro was handpicked by the Kerala Blasters FC management a couple of years ago, after his exceptional performance for Dempo in the Goa Professional League. Since then, the full-back has been omnipresent in the Blasters setup, impressing in the debut season (2019-20)  itself, in which he provided five assists, made 28 clearances, 22 blocks, 28 tackles, and 22 interceptions. After leading the side in the latter stages of the 2020-21 Hero ISL, the footballer has been named as the permanent club captain ahead of the new season.

Mumbai City FC - Mourtada Fall

The central defender is not new to Indian football, having made his Hero ISL debut back in the 2018-19 season, under the tutelage of Sergio Lobera for FC Goa. The solidly built defender impressed with his abilities throughout his two-year stay with the Gaurs and even guided them to the 2019 Hero Super Cup title and the 2019-20 Hero ISL League Winners Shield win. Following the footsteps of Lobera, Mourtada Fall flocked to Mumbai City FC last season and helped them claim a maiden Hero ISL title. Set to feature in his fourth season in Indian football, the Senegalese will lead the Mumbai City FC unit in their title defence.

NorthEast United FC - Subhasish Roy, Hernan Santana, Fredrico Gallego, Khassa Camara

Subhasish is one of the most experienced footballers in Indian football at present, having started his professional career way back in 2004 for East Bengal, after graduating from the Tata Football Academy. In fact, the custodian has played at least one game in each of the past editions of the Hero ISL, having represented six different teams till now. As one of the veterans in the squad, none were surprised when he was chosen as one of the captains for NorthEast United FC.

Meanwhile, Spaniard Hernan Santana, Uruguayan Fredrico Gallego, and Mauritania international Khassa Camara have also been appointed as skippers for the upcoming season.

Odisha FC - Vinit Rai, Victor Mongil, Hector Rodas

The Indian footballer started his professional career at a very young age, after graduating from the Tata Football Academy. Goa-based side Dempo SC was his first destination, as Vinit Rai made his debut in the I-League as the youngest first-team player. Owing to lack of playing time, Rai left Dempo in 2016, and after short stints with Kerala Blasters FC and Minerva Punjab FC, the midfielder was signed by then Delhi Dynamos FC (now Odisha FC). Following which, he was a mainstay in the setup, providing solidity in the playmaking zone. Simultaneously, the footballer made his international debut in 2018 and now he has been summoned to lead the Juggernauts in the 2021-22 Hero ISL.

The Spanish duo of Victor Mongil and Hector Rodas have also been named as captains, along with Vinit Rai - to form the trio.

SC East Bengal - Arindam Bhattacharja

After a sensational season, which saw the custodian display match-winning glove-work under the sticks and also win the 2020-21 Hero ISL Golden Glove award, not many would have thought Arindam Bhattacharja to swap sides. However, ATK-Mohun Bagan relieved him from his duties, which allowed their arch-rivals SC East Bengal to rope in the veteran, who made 59 saves last season. Not only is the 31-year old a valuable inclusion to the squad, but with experience under his belt, Arindam is the best bet to lead the century-old club.

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