The Indian Super League is back for the second time and it is already making waves in the world of Football. Last year, it was the 4th best league in the world in terms of average attendance. It trailed behind the German Bundesliga, the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga only, which, in itself, is a huge achievement given the fact that India is a cricket crazy country. However, as the football fever grips the one billion strong nation, the footballers get the opportunity to share the stage with some of the biggest names in football.
FC Goa is being coached by none other than Brazilian icon, Zico whereas Atletico De Kolkata is spearheaded by Portuguese World-cupper and former team-mate of Cristiano Ronaldo, Helder Postiga. The likes of Elano Blumer, Adrian Mutu, Nicolas Anelka, John Arne Riise and Roberto Carlos grace this year’s edition of the ISL, however, it is apparent that the goalkeepers make the most of the center stage. Last year, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury started the trend by making some spectacular dives to give Atletico a clean sheet and a 3-0 win in the opening match. Former Kerala Blasters keeper and Premier league record-holder for most clean sheets, David James, played a pivotal role in their run to the finals. The story ended in the same way it started in the first place. Apoula Edel, gave Atletico the maiden ISL title after making a string of saves and keeping the score goalless in regulation time.
But that was last year. Here are the top three keepers to watch out for in this year’s edition of the Indian Super League.
Elinton Andrade: – This Brazilian-Portuguese stalwart makes his debut in India with FC Goa this year. He has already started his campaign on a high after keeping a clean sheet in his very first match. Andrade is vastly experienced as he has played for a various clubs in different countries including one of the top French sides, Olympique Marseille, with whom he has won the Coupe de la Ligue twice and Ligue 1 once. He has come into the ISL with top form after winning the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2015 with Portugal. He made 67 saves in just 6 matches of the tournament, which made him a candidate for the golden glove. So one can expect him to be very hard to beat and the sole reason for opposition strikers’ frustrations.
Subrata Paul: – Nicknamed Spiderman, Subrata Paul is India’s no. 1 shot-stopper for quite some time now. Having won the best goalkeeper in the I-League in the year 2007, none can doubt the keeper’s abilities. He has captained the national side for a number of matches and is also the first Indian goalkeeper to secure a contract from a foreign club, FCV Vikings of the Danish SuperLiga. In the inaugural edition of the ISL, Paul kept 6 clean sheets and made 47 saves in 14 matches. His efforts were 2nd highest in both categories. This year he will look to better his numbers and be the best keeper of the tournament when he turns up for Mumbai City FC.
Apoula Edima Edel Bete: – The Armenian keeper single-handedly kept the Kerala Blasters at bay in the final of the ISL 2014. His saves frustrated Kerala to the core and won Atletico De Kolkata the maiden ISL silverware. However, he will be turning out for arch-rivals, Chennaiyin FC this year. Edel has a save percentage of 86.3% which makes him one of the best keepers in the league. Even though Chennaiyin let in 3 goals in their first match this year, Edel’s penalty save showed why he is a force to reckon with. His one save almost turned the match on its head as Atletico tried to hold on to their lead while Chennai pushed on for the equalizer in injury time. Expect this former Paris Saint Germain star to be a crucial part of Chennaiyin’s campaign this season and if he performs like last year, one can bet that Chennai will be able to snatch away the title from Atletico De Kolkata.