This season’s Indian Super League (ISL) has seen a number of foreign recruits excel in different positions. Some have completely changed the dynamic in their team from seasons before while others have improved the existing squad enormously with their experience and technical ability. Here we handpick five such players who have had a substantial impact for their side in the season so far.
Benjamin Lambot (NorthEast United)
Lambot has been the star defender for NorthEast so far this season. Like Onaindia, the 33-year-old Belgian has played every minute in his team’s eight matches so far and has been the pillar at the back. He has 12 tackles, 18 interceptions, 42 clearances and 17 blocks so far but just one yellow card to show for it. Moreover, he has that little bit of extra pace that you wouldn’t expect a tall centre-back to possess. It was this quality that enabled him to grab his first goal of the season against Odisha FC last night from a well-directed header.
Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
Angulo has been the shining light for Juan Ferrando’s FC Goa in an otherwise bleak start to the campaign. The Gaurs have won two and drawn two so far in the ISL this season and all of their 8 points have come courtesy of Igor Angulo’s 6 goals. What is remarkable about him is that he has had just 130 touches so far in seven games and has yet been able to find the back of the net at will. A typical poacher, the 36-year-old Spaniard has the knack of picking his moments extremely well. He also has the second highest number of shots at goal as well as those on target (12 out of 24) in the league so far which speaks volumes about the danger that he possesses in and around the penalty area.
Khassa Camara (NorthEast United)
The Mauritanian Camara has been immense for the Highlanders this term. He is the 6th highest tackler (33) and 2nd best interceptor (21) in the league at the moment and has played a crucial part in all three of his side’s clean sheets. With close to 75% passing accuracy, he is important in their buildup too and his absence was felt by NorthEast last night in the match against Odisha FC when they ended up conceding a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw. The important thing to remember in all of this is that this is Camara’s first season in the ISL and the way that he has adapted his game to suit his team’s demands has been brilliant.
Cleiton Silva (Bengaluru FC)
The Brazilian started the season slowly but has slowly developed into one of Carles Cuadrat’s main men. His versatility and ability to pop up in the right place at the right time is what makes him such an attacking threat. While the usually dependable Udanta Singh has been kind of hit and miss this season, Silva has filled in on that right flank and come up with three crucial goals and an assist. Curiously enough, his upturn in form is what marked Bengaluru’s return to their fluid best which tells you all you need to know about the crafty 33-year-old.
Odei Onaindia (Hyderabad FC)
The 31-year-old Spaniard has played every minute of his side’s six games so far and has been the guiding light for their young defence. A very clean defender, he is deceptively good in the air which is epitomised by the 25 clearances that he has affected so far, most of them aerial. Being the only foreign defender in the side, the way he has guided the likes of Akash Mishra, Chinglensana Singh and Asish Rai has been truly inspirational and has been the base for Hyderabad FC’s steady start to the ISL season.