Hero ISL 2022-23: Experts pick the Team of the Season
As the dust settles on another remarkable season, Hero ISL experts Phil Brown, Eric Paartalu, and Paul Masefield went about picking the Team of the Season.
The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) returned with a bang with the fans back in the stands in 2022-23 season, and the spectacular campaign came to a fitting end on Saturday, when ATK Mohun Bagan lifted the Hero ISL trophy after defeating Bengaluru FC in Goa.
The season had plenty of highlights from Mumbai City FC winning the League Winners’ Shield to six teams heading into the playoffs for the first time ever due to a change in the format.
Plenty of new players in the Hero ISL made their mark, while some of the more experienced players also played key roles. Be it the domestic players or the foreign ones, each individual gave his 100% on the pitch in order to help their respective teams achieve their seasonal objective.
So as the dust settles on another remarkable season, Hero ISL experts Phil Brown, Erik Paartalu, and Paul Masefield went about picking the Team of the Season. Here's who made it to the list.
Vishal Kaith (ATK Mohun Bagan)
Vishal Kaith was in a league of his own this year, winning the Jindal Panther Golden Glove award after keeping 12 clean sheets. He also racked up the second highest saves in the league (67), including a penalty save in the final that enabled the Mariners to win the Hero ISL title.
Right Back - Rahul Bheke (Mumbai City FC)
Mumbai City FC’s Rahul Bheke has been a vital player for Des Buckingham’s side this season. He fulfils the role of a modern full-back, and his biggest asset is being able to operate efficiently at both ends of the pitch. Bheke has been a solid presence in the Islanders’ backline, making 30 interceptions in 17 appearances over the course of the season and helping his side to a record-breaking League Shield triumph.
Centre Back - Pritam Kotal (ATK Mohun Bagan)
Pritam Kotal has been a mainstay in the heart of the ATK Mohun Bagan's defence for quite some time now. The ATK Mohun Bagan captain’s impressive performances at centre-back have been a crucial reason behind his side recording 12 clean sheets.
ATKMB conceded 19 goals and kept 12 clean sheets in 24 matches this season with Kotal in the team. When he was on the pitch, his team conceded a goal every 124 minutes. Moreover, he made 0.62 tackles and 1.90 interceptions for every 90 minutes. He was instrumental in leading the Mariners to their first-ever Hero ISL triumph.
Centre Back - Odei Onaindia (Hyderabad FC)
The 33-year-old experienced campaigner Odei Onaindia was a crucial presence in Manolo Marquez’s backline and helped the club keep 12 clean sheets. He formed a solid defensive partnership with Chinglensana Singh, and in terms of statistics, Onaindia made 38 tackles, 23 interceptions, 94 clearances, and 31 blocks. He also contributed a goal and an assist going forward.
Left Back - Akash Mishra (Hyderabad FC)
Known for his darting runs into the final third, Akash Mishra has been unlucky to not record a goal contribution this season.
However, the full-back played his part in helping Hyderabad FC concede the fewest goals this season. He made 81 tackles this season, along with 35 interceptions, 53 clearances, and 33 blocks. Mishra has also created nine chances and recorded an impressive 69.89 percent pass accuracy.
Centre Midfield - Suresh Singh Wangjam (Bengaluru FC)
Suresh Singh Wangjam became a mainstay in the heart of Bengaluru FC’s midfield and was an important part of the Blues’ turnaround this season. The midfielder was effective for the Blues with his pressing and was crucial in transitions, creating seven chances and making 91 tackles along with 43 blocks.
Centre Midfield - Lalengmawia Ralte (Mumbai City FC)
The 22-year-old was a key figure in Des Buckingham's League Shield-winning team, appearing in 17 games and scoring three goals. He created 11 chances while having an impressive passing accuracy of 84.8 percent. Ralte played a major role in the middle of the park as he was adept at tackling alongside his ability to dictate the pace of the game. He made 62 tackles throughout the season.
Centre Attacking Midfield - Greg Stewart (Mumbai City FC)
Greg Stewart made the headlines last season, excelling for Jamshedpur FC as they won the League Winners' Shield. He joined Mumbai City FC for the 2022-23 season and did not disappoint. The attacker got seven goals and provided eight assists in 20 outings, helping the Islanders win the League Winners’ Shield.
Right Wing - Lallianzuala Chhangte (Mumbai City FC)
Chhangte had the season of his life with 10 goals and six assists, and while there would be a hint of disappointment for losing out the semi-finals on penalties, he would be proud of the shift he put in for his team this season.
Chhangte has terrorised defenders constantly with his pace and immaculate dribbling skills in the final third. Complementing that, is his ability to get into good scoring positions and find his teammates with his passes. The Mizoram player is a big reason why Mumbai City FC finished as the highest-scoring team this season with 54 goals.
Left Wing - Noah Sadaoui (FC Goa)
Noah Sadaoui took the league by storm in his debut Hero ISL season while playing for FC Goa. The versatile attacker scored nine goals and made nine assists for the Gaurs in 20 appearances. He finished as the top assist maker and won the KBFC Street Baller of the League award too. Noah was a shining light in a season that did not have many positives for Carlos Pena’s side.
Striker - Diego Mauricio (Odisha FC)
Diego Mauricio made history by becoming the first player from Odisha FC to win the Golden Boot award. The striker scored 12 goals for his team and was a significant reason for their historic playoff qualification. He was unable to lead the team past the knockout stage and into the semi-finals, but his individual performance was highly regarded.
Head Coach - Des Buckingham (Mumbai City FC)
It was a historic season for Mumbai City FC and the man who led them, Des Buckingham made his mark in style in the Hero ISL by winning the League Shield in a record-breaking fashion. He got his team playing an attractive brand of football that won them admirers far beyond Mumbai. Mumbai City FC, with the help of Buckingham, lit up the league and put on a show throughout the season.