The Indian Super League (ISL) has been a good league for defensive players, central defenders in particular. Since the inception of the league, there have been many players that have come through the ranks, the most notable of the lot being Sandesh Jhingan.
This season has seen several world-class defensive players sign for clubs playing in the ISL. Let's take a look at five central defenders to watch out for this season:
#1 Bakary Kone (Kerala Blasters FC)
On the back of two disappointing seasons, the Kerala Blasters management has opted for a ground-up rebuild. In their pursuit of excellence, they have managed to lure in some big name players from Europe such as Vicente Gomez, Gary Hooper, and Costa Nhamoinesu.
32-year-old Bakary Kone is one of those big names having previously played for Lyon in Ligue 1. Kone has also played in the UEFA Champions League and will be expected to partner either Vicente Gomez or Costa in central defense. Kone is also among the contenders to lead the Kerala Blasters this season.
#2 Rahul Bheke (Bengaluru FC)
Although predominantly a right full-back, Rahul Bheke has grown into the center-back role in recent times. Now, in the absence of Albert Serran in the squad, Bheke's role as center-back alongside Juanan has become all the more important.
Bheke is fondly remembered by Bengaluru FC fans after he scored the only goal in the 2018-19 ISL final against FC Goa to hand the Blues the championship for the season. Needless to say, the Mumbai-born defender will be one of the key players for Bengaluru FC this season.
#3 Sandesh Jhingan (ATK Mohun Bagan)
In the context of Indian football, Sandesh Jhingan is already somewhat of a legend. Having made his ISL debut with the Kerala Blasters all those years ago, the 27-year-old has been an integral part of the Indian national team as well. He has also gone on to captain the side on several occasions.
After six years with the Blasters, Jhingan now finds himself with new entrants ATK Mohun Bagan. The Punjab-born central defender also finds himself alongside a few big names in the ISL such as Roy Krishna and David Williams. He will be playing in the heart of a strong defensive unit along with Tiri, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose.
#4 Steven Taylor (Odisha FC)
Steven Taylor was among the first players to sign with an ISL club in the 2020-21 season's transfer window. The former Newcastle United man comes into the Odisha FC side on the back of a few impressive performances in the A-League with Wellington Phoenix.
In many ways, Taylor is viewed as a replacement for former Sunderland AFC player Matthew Kilgallon. The 34-year-old is also expected to take charge of the captaincy of the club for the upcoming season as well.
#5 Mourtada Fall (Mumbai City FC)
Mourtada Fall became the fourth player from FC Goa after Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, and Mandar Rao Dessai to reunite with Sergio Lobera at Mumbai City FC. The Islanders boast of an incredibly strong squad with the likes of Adam le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche, and Hernan Santana.
Fall was an important part of the FC Goa outfit that managed to secure the ISL League Winner's shield last season. The 32-year-old is also a threat from set-pieces given his imposing presence, aerial prowess and physique.Published 09 Nov 2020, 18:46 IST