An exciting I-League season is now over and Goal.com recognises the best performers in each position during the season. Now its time for the people who run the show in the middle.
By Kaustav Bera
Another season of the I-League is done and dusted with, and with several high scoring games this campaign,this year's I-League can be widely touted as being a feast for those who love end to end and open matches laden with goals.
Although the strikers will have naturally stolen the show atleast in the goals department, it is the midfielders who have added the necessary spark and creativity in the middle of the park which allowed the forwards to enjoy their record breaking goal scoring feats. However it is the attacking playmakers who have held their own this year, with the sheer number of goals being scored meaning that the defensive medios had a torrid season this time around.
Goal.com shortlists three of the best on show this campaign who have not only marshaled the midfield with gusto but have also demonstrated their ability to score goals. This is in no particular order and is arranged alphabetically.
Douhou Pierre | Pune FC
It was no surprise when Douhou Pierre picked up the Pune FC Player of the Year award as well as Players' Player of the year award for his excellent performances this season after a year in the wilderness. He added a touch of class to the Pune midfield and was primarily responsible for their excellent showing this time around, as they finished 5th in the I-League narrowly missing out from finishing even higher up.
Great on the ball, Douhou is equally efficient when he does not have the ball as he makes those vital interceptions and then immediately launches a counter attack with his perfect passing ability and vision to see that long pass two seconds before the opposition defenders had plugged that gaping hole. An orchestrator in the midfield the combination between him and Mandjou Keita was a fearsome one to behold and a treat for spectators.
Penn Ikechukwu Orji | East Bengal
Penn Orji has been by far East Bengal's most impressive player as the Red and Gold again missed out on the I-league crown for the second time running as they managed to finish runners up. He has not only been East Bengal's most consistent player, but has also come up with the goods when called on.
In his 24 appearances he has bagged 7 goals and 4 assists which are great figures for a playmaker in midfield. Leaving aside stats, his calm presence in midfield has added a new dimension to the Red and Gold brigade under Trevor Morgan as they concentrated more on ground passes and one touch football rather than hopefully hoofing the ball forward.
Penn has thus been instrumental to Trevor's plans as he not only perfectly dictated the tempo of the game but his vision has been exemplary as he has the ability to thread that perfect through ball at will and find that all elusive pass.
Roberto Mendes da Silva | Churchill Brothers
Roberto Mendes da Silva nicknamed as 'Beto' had left Dempo SC to join Churchill Brothers to win the I-League. However that did not quite work out for the Brazillian as his former team ended up as champions.
Personally however this has been a terrific year for Beto as he has amassed an incredible 9 goals from only 15 appearances this season. It can only be guessed what Churchill would achieve if injuries had not come in his way of appearing for the whole of the season. A third placed finish could easily have been translated to table toppers.
When the Churchill defense did not have a great outing this time around, it was Beto's impact in the centre of the pitch that added the much needed calmness to the whole team. Churchill too could not cope with the loss of sensational hitman, Odafa Okolie to Mohun Bagan and one can only dream of the possibilities had the two combined.
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