The anticipation to the build-up of the ISL 2020-21 season has evidently topped all its previous editions owing to the addition of popular football clubs ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal to the mix and multi-millionaire City Football Group (CFG) investing in the project.
However, players still remain the major attraction of the tournament and barring the big summer moves, ISL 2020-21 will also see some lesser-known footballers taking the pitch in the hope that they become household names in India by the time the tournament ends.
Here are five Indian Super League players you should keep an eye on:
CLEITON SILVA (Bengaluru FC)
The 2018-19 ISL champions Bengaluru FC have taken a back seat since the past one year, where ATK invested heavily in their squad to win the title and Mumbai City FC emerged as a force to reckon with. The departure of BFC’s star striker Miku has left a hole that Carles Cuadrat has struggled to fill and bringing in Brazilian goal machine Cleiton Silva seems a promising attempt to attend the same. Top-tier Thailand football league’s all-time top scorer, the 33-year-old Silva was the first foreigner to breach the 100-goal mark in Thailand and he could be a real threat for any side in the league.
IGOR ANGULO (FC Goa)
It took FC Goa just one season to lose more than half of their core that fetched them a spot in the AFC Champions League last season. While the departure of Sergio Lobera saw foreign stars like Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall and Hugo Boumous leaving with the manager, Goa couldn’t retain the services of Spain’s Ferran Corominas as well. However, they have tried replacing the league’s top scorer with compatriot Igor Angulo, who comes from Polish Ekstraklasa side Gornik Zabrze. Known for his brilliant understanding of space and prolific goal-scoring skills, Angulo comes with 80 goals to his name in the Polish division and has all the attributes to replace Coro.
BRADDEN INMAN (ATK Mohun Bagan)
With Antonio Habas already having Edu Garcia and Javi Hernandez in the midfield barring inside-playing forward David Williams, Bradden Inman’s first-team chances look limited to begin with. But the well-built midfielder is tailor-made for ISL’s physical demands and he is expected to become a regular in the green and maroon shirt quickly. A product of the famed Newcastle United Academy, Inman made up for his absence in the Premier League with some scintillating displays for A-League side Brisbane Roar. His ball-winning abilities and eye for the perfect pass could make him a fan favourite soon enough.
FATKHULO FATKHULOEV (Chennaiyin FC)
Like FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC saw last season’s leading goal scorer Nerijus Valskis leaving for Jamshedpur FC alongside coach Owen Coyle in the summer. However, unlike Goa, Chennai have gone for a lesser-known alternative in Tajikistan national team captain Fatkhulo Fatkhuloev. Fatkhuloev is the first-ever Tajikistan player in ISL and CFC showed instant faith in the striker by making him the captain. Indian fans might remember Fatkhuloev from his goal against India in the international friendly. Coming from Tajikistan Higher League club FK Khujand, the right-wing/ forward was directly involved in 10 goals in 21 matches.
CY GODDARD (Mumbai City FC)
Another player who might start the season on the bench, Cy Goddard will look to impress Sergio Lobera in every opportunity he gets. A Tottenham Hotspur academy product, Goddard was loaned out to Italian side Benevento before he came to Mumbai City FC. Though the 23-year-old does not have experience on his side, the talented midfielder cum winger has all the right qualities to become a superstar in the Indian Super League before his expectant European League call-up. Though with midfielders like Ahmed Jahouh, Raynier Fernandes and Rowlin Borges already in the squad, Goddard will be below in the pecking order, but the youngster is definitely one to watch out for.
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