With ISL, India taking small but steady strides in world football 

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Kolkata, Dec 21 (IANS) The Indian Super League (ISL) trophy has changed hands and flown down to the south of the country with Chennaiyin FC winning it against FC Goa 3-2 on Sunday but it has also put in signs which say that the nation slowly but steadily is taking small strides in world football.

The tempo at which the games were played at and the quality of goals can be well compared to the top B-Leagues around the world. Even the final was a nail-biter as Chennaiyin clinched it in the dying minutes of added time.

Even though the likes of World Cup winners like Italy’s Marco Materazzi and Roberto Carlos of Brazil have helped grabbed eyeballs with their new role as tacticians, football on the pitch too has been absorbing.

“It has been bigger and better this year. ISL should remain on this track as it would help Indian football grow big,” Materazzi had said.

It is infact noticeable that ISL’s top player this season John Stiven Mendoza hails from Corinthians, one of the biggest powerhouses of Brazilian club football. The Colombian grabbed the golden boot award for netting 13 goals this season including the winner in the final.

Another foreigner also made it a habit of finding the back of the net, Iain Hume. The bald marksman not only helped last year’s champions Atletico de Kolkata make the semis but made sure they went out with their heads held high. The Canadian was just behind Mendoza and finished with 11 strikes and was fit as a fiddle throughout the tournament even at 32.

“Players are coming here to prove they are not finished. It is not that every one’s coming here in the twilight of their career when they have nothing else to do. I was here to prove a point. Many of the players proved that they were up for the challenge here,” Hume had told reporters here.

FC Goa’s Brazilian forward Reinaldo Oliviera and Mumbai City’s Sunil Chhetri scored seven goals each in the league.

Coming to the men who mattered between the sticks, it was Rehenesh TP for NorthEast United FC who topped the list for making the most number of saves (45). Delhi Dynamos’ Spanish goalkeeper Antonio Doblas was second on the table with 45 stops. Mumbai’s Subrata Paul and Amrinder Singh of Atletico have made 40 saves each.

Doblas had said sometime back said that “calmness” has helped him guard his citadel better.

“A goalkeeper has to be calm. So whenever they were coming at me, I remained focused and calm,” Doblas had said after his side’s 1-0 win against ATK on October 29.

There were 3505 tackles attempted in the tournament. Leading the charts in terms of number of challenges was Kerala Blasters midfielder Mehtab Hossain (69). He was closely followed by Thoi Singh of Chennaiyin who finished with 67.

There were 186 goals scored in the competition out of which FC Goa scored 32, Chennai netted 29 and Atletico found the net 28 times.

The tourney also witnessed red-card being flashed eight times yellow cards 250 times.

A total of 48,451 passes were made out of which 75 percent were completed. There were 1526 shots on target and 2062 crosses delivered along with 1375 interceptions.

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