ISL 2017/18: Team of the Week after Round 14
FC Pune City moved closer to qualification by halting Bengaluru FC's run of 5 straight wins while Mumbai City FC kept their qualification hopes alive with a win over ATK.
FC Goa's dismal run continued while Jamshedpur stretched their unbeaten run to four games. Who were the XI players that stood out? Let's find out.
GK: Paul Rachubka (Kerala Blasters)
David James described the rest of the fixtures for Kerala Blasters as 'must-win games', and Rachubka had a task of ensuring just that when Kerala Blasters faced NorthEast United. Wes Brown ensured that the Blasters took the crucial lead and it was then up to Rachubka to safeguard and ensure that the Blasters do not concede. He did just that as he saved all 5 shots that he faced, and was alert to aerial danger, grabbing 7 crosses.
CB: Sarthak Golui (FC Pune City)
The man who joined the Stallions on loan from Mohun Bagan quickly became a vital figure since day 1 when he set up Emiliano Alfaro for a goal against Delhi Dynamos. His rise to fame was massive, highlighted by the fact that he played just twice for Mohun Bagan in the last two seasons of the I-League but has already had 12 ISL games under his belt since joining the stallions. He scored his 1st ever ISL goal this week as he slotted home from a perfectly timed run into the box. Unfortunately, Miku's equalizer meant that his goal couldn't give the Stallions all 3 points.
CB: Wes Brown (Kerala Blasters)
The former Manchester United favourite Wes Brown took a while to settle into the Kerala Blasters side with Nemanja Lakic-Pesic being preferred ahead of him in the earlier games. But after doing a commendable job in the midfield, he was slotted in at centre-back and he has made this place his own ever since. His versatile nature coupled with his strong partnership with Sandesh Jhingan has made Kerala Blasters a solid outfit to break. He added a cherry to his cake when he slotted home a well-timed header from a peach of a delivery from Jackichand Singh that ensured Kerala Blasters took all three points against NorthEast United.
CB: Marcio Rozario (Mumbai City FC)
An injury to Lucian Goian coupled with Mumbai City's leaky defence compelled Alexandre Guimaraes to play the experienced Brazilian regularly in the last few games. But with Mumbai needing a win to keep their qualification hopes alive, he turned from a defender to a lethal free-kick taker when he struck a perfect free-kick that went past the stretched Poirei against ATK last week. Despite starting just 7 games this season, he was a rock at the back against ATK, clearing the ball 15 times and read the game perfectly, intercepting thrice.
CM: Wellington Priori (Jamshedpur FC)
There is something with the Steve Coppell sides that produce a late surge in the league stages. One man that has helped achieve that has been the Brazilian midfielder Wellington Priori. After scoring a wonderful bicycle kick against NorthEast United, he struck a perfect volley to score the 200th goal of this season which looked to be the winner, only to be denied by a late equalizer by Md Rafi.
CM: Sanju Pradhan (Mumbai City FC)
The midfielder has been a nomad in the ISL, with Mumbai City FC being his 4th side in as many seasons. With Alexandre Guimaraes choosing to go with 3 at the back in many games, Sanju has been preferred as the right wing back. He didn't have the performances for the Islanders till recently against ATK, where he not only created two goalscoring chances but also chipped in with a vital cross that was angled home by Rafa Jorda which meant that Mumbai City FC took all 3 points from that fixture to stay alive for a place in the Top 4.
RM: Jackichand Singh (Kerala Blasters FC)
Jackichand Singh has managed to bring out his best this season in the ISL, not only scoring twice but also registering 3 assists to his name. With 5 goal contributions, it is his best season in the ISL. He was on song against NorthEast United, creating 3 chances & also providing a peach of a cross to Wes Brown which he latched on to score a vital goal that guaranteed Kerala Blasters all 3 points.
LM: David Ngaihte (Delhi Dynamos FC)
After stints at Shillong Lajong, NorthEast United and Minerva Punjab FC, Ngaihte was back in Delhi, having signed with Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League this season. He was starting for just the third time this season against his former side NorthEast United and produced a brilliant ball for Uche to head home as Delhi took all 3 points against the Highlanders. He was busy in the game, managing 3 shots, also creating 2 chances.
AM: Bipin Singh (ATK)
Bipin Singh has been a rare positive in what has been a dismal season for the side from Kolkata. And after scoring a beautiful free-kick against FC Pune City in an earlier game in Kolkata, he found the back of the net once again as he latched on to a perfectly setup ball by Conor Thomas to bring ATK back in the game against Mumbai City FC. Despite causing the Mumbai defence enough problems down the flank with his 6 crosses on the night, he couldn't help his side take any points from the game.
FWD: Md Rafi (Chennaiyin FC)
The veteran of many battles, Mohammed Rafi is no stranger to headed goals and turned out to be a super sub when Chennaiyin won against NorthEast United. He had done it in the past and didn't fail this time too when Mihelic crossed from the left and found Rafi who leapt and headed it in the goal with some venom against Jamshedpur FC. It meant that Chennaiyin took a step closer to qualifying for the playoffs with a vital point.
FWD: Miku (Bengaluru FC)
The Venezuelan was coming into the game with a poor record of scoring goals at the Sree Kanteerava stadium. He walked in against FC Pune City knowing that Bengaluru had a record of 5 straight wins to build on. The hosts received an early jolt when Sarthak struck for FC Pune City, but it was Miku who struck in the second half from a Semboi Haokip cross to help Bengaluru FC grab a point from the game & in the process scored his 12th goal of the season meaning he is now just 1 goal behind Ferran Corominas in the race for the Golden Boot.