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ISL 2017-18: Jewel Raja and Bikramjit Singh set to become only players to feature in play-offs for every edition

04:25 GMT+4 06/03/2018
Bikramjit Singh NorthEast United FC Atletico de Kolkata ISL season 3 2016
The two midfielders have made it to the play-offs in all three previous ISL seasons...

When FC Pune City take on Bengaluru FC and FC Goa host Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) semi-finals, there will be a unique piece of history created by two Indian players.

Pune’s Jewel Raja and Chennaiyin’s Bikramjit Singh are set to become the only two players in the four-year history of the competition to feature in the play-offs in each and every edition.

In the finals of last year’s edition, the former had famously dispatched the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Kerala Blasters FC. The 28-year-old midfielder had started his ISL with the legendary Zico’s FC Goa during the maiden edition in 2014.

There, Raja made nine appearances under the Brazilian as Goa marched into the play-offs courtesy a second-place finish in the league stages. The midfielder would line up against the Kolkata outfit in the last-four clash but this time, he and his team-mates would end up on the losing side of a penalty-shootout against the champions elect.

Raja’s displays were enough to convince the then Athletico de Kolkata side to snap him up the following season. The Kolkata side finished second after the league-stages to become the first side to qualify for the play-offs where they were pitted against eventual champions Chennaiyin.

Once again the midfielder’s campaign ended in the play-offs at the expense of the champions before he finally turned up for the winning side last year.

On the other hand, Bikramjit was a team-mate to Raja in his maiden tryst with the ISL in 2014. Unlike Raja though, the fellow midfielder was retained by Zico in the following season. The Gaurs went on to have a splendid run in the league-stages, finishing on the top before succumbing to defeat against Raja’s Atletico de Kolkata in the play-offs.

Bikramjit made a total of 21 appearances in two seasons under the Brazilian before linking up once again with Raja in 2017, this time at Kolkata.

Raja has not enjoyed the number of minutes he has in previous editions, making six appearances so far for Ranko Popovic’s side in the current campaign. Bikramjit though, has featured heavily under John Gregory, making 12 appearances.

With their fates intertwined in the previous three years, they could very well face up against each other in this season’s final if all goes to plan for their respective sides in the play-offs.

For now, they become the only two players to feature in the last-four every single edition, a stat that could very well feature in many trivia questions related to the ISL in years to come.