ISL 2016: October's team of the month
Note: The team has been chosen purely based on performances of the players and not taking into factor ISL’s rule of having at least 5 Indians in a team.
The end of October signals many things. In the Western world, the final day of the tenth month means it's Halloween and time to get your spooky gear on. Here in India, there's a chance that the festival of Diwali has just passed. Either way, whatever your celebrations, chances are you've had a whole lot more to eat and drink these past few days.
And while slipping back on the couch and reaching for the TV remote or your portable device, there's a high probability you've chanced upon the Indian Super League, now in its third season, and it's halfway stage at the end of October.
Here, we attempt to pick out who shone the brightest in that first half, just like those crackling sparklers during the festival of lights.
Playing in India is physically demanding and over 90 minutes. Heat and humidity are absolute pains and they don't choose to excuse good footballers. With that in mind, there will be a defensive midfielder in this team, to do the dirty work and to allow the ones in front of him to preserve their energy for more potent efforts in the attacking third.
A lone forward with two wide midfielders to provide support as well as make sure every blade of grass is covered means we had to opt for a 4- 1-4-1 formation for this Team Of The Month.
Goalkeeper: Subrata Paul (NorthEast United)
Paul has kept goal in every game for his side. Despite having a few tense moments early in the tournament, the India veteran has done well in organising things at the back for a defence that has conceded only five goals (2nd best). He's also made 31 saves, the most by any keeper so far.
Left Back: Richarlyson Felisbino (FC Goa)
Last year's runners-up might resemble a ship riddled with holes, trying valiantly yet failing to plug all of them, all the while sinking to the bottom of the table. Richarlyson has been a bright spark for them. The Brazilian can play left-back, left midfield or even as a defensive midfielder. Playing as Goa’s left-back though, Richarlyson has a goal and assist to his name and has provided a lot of attacking impetus to his team.
CB: Cedric Hengbart (Kerala Blasters)
Age may slow down a lot of things, but not your senses as shown by Hengbart. The 36-year-old Frenchman has been a calming presence in the heart of the Blasters’ defence with his astute reading of the game. The Blasters have been the best defensive unit so far, shipping only four goals. Hengbart was an essential part of Kerala’s run to the final in 2014 and is looking to do the same once again.
CB: Lucian Goian (Mumbai City FC)
Be it throwing himself to smother shots on goal or rising highest to clear balls into the box, Goian has helped Mumbai bolster its defence, an area that has historically been the club's weak point. The Romanian has made 27 tackles, second most in the league, to help his side sit second in the table at present.
Right Back: Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters)
The Blasters defence, as mentioned earlier, has been the best so far this season. So it's no surprise that another Tusker finds his way into the best XI and even less of a surprise when that Blaster happens to be Sandesh Jhingan. Consistently amongst the best defenders every season, Jhingan is at it again. Be it playing centre-back or right-back, Jhingan continues to stymie defences, while also being a leader out on the pitch.