It is the fag end of the three month long tournament and the stage is being set for the top four teams that will be having a shot at the coveted trophy. It has been an exciting tournament so far with plenty of action happening all around. This time it has lived up to the expectations, forcing all the teams to buck up under stiff competition.
Amidst all the feats, the goals are flowing thick and fast and a number of hat-tricks have been scored. At this juncture, we take a look at the top five strikers of the tournament.
#1 John Stiven Mendoza Valencia, Chennaiyin FC
Hailing from the Latin American nation of Colombia, Mendoza had caught the fancy of the Chennai fans in the first edition itself. With his blistering pace, he scored his first hat-trick in this edition’s opening game of his side against FC Goa.
Mendoza gave the other strikers a run for their money after notching up his second hat-trick in a 4-1 win at Kerala. His pace and agility makes him an extremely difficult proposition for the defenders. Currently he leads the chart with 9 goals from 10 matches. With 4 games to still go, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the strike force can catch up with the pacy striker.
#2 Iain Edward Hume, Atletico de Kolkata
The prolific striker who bagged the player of the tournament in the previous season with Kerala Blasters, now plies his trade for the defending champions, ATK. His first goal for his side took some time to materialize. Just when the media was questioning this buy for the Kolkata side, Hume silenced his critics with a hat-trick against Mumbai City FC.
Since then the industrious striker has gone on to score six goals in 12 appearances. The scoring rate may not have been as extravagant with 1 goal every 2 games. Nevertheless, the work-rate of the 32-year old poses a serious threat for the opposing defenders. A string of impressive performances has made him the fan favourite already. With the play offs almost confirmed for Atletico de Kolkata, it is a matter of time before Hume occupies the top spot in the goal scoring charts.
#3 Sunil Chhetri, Mumbai City FC
Validating the name Indian Super League, Sunil Chhetri’s name features brightly on the list. Bengaluru FC did not release him to participate in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League. This time he has made it big in spite of limited appearances owing to the additional national duties.
Having made only eight appearances, Sunil has etched his name in the record books as the first Indian to score a hat-trick this season. With six goals to his name, the calm striker knows the key to unlock goals. His team maybe in high waters, having lost badly in the last few games, but Chhetri’s in good touch. Partnering Nicolas Anelka is not an easy task, but he has done it with aplomb. Will he clinch the top goal scorers’ award? Time will tell.
#4 Chris Dagnall, Kerala Blasters FC
A relatively new name in the Indian Super League, Chris Dagnall made his first appearance in this edition for Kerala Blasters. Being the top scorer for championship side Leyton Orient in the previous season, the Liverpool born striker arrived in a grand fashion in India, scoring the fastest goal of the Indian Super League. His stocky build allowed him to make his way through the defence and rake up 5 goals in 10 appearances.
Currently, he is well en route to bag the golden boot award, just one goal behind his fellow Liverpool mate, Iain Hume. Dagnall’s team have a difficult task ahead if they wish to qualify for the play offs. But that should not seem to bother the Englishman as he will still have three more games in the group stage. Till the confirmation of the top four, each team has a chance to feature in the play offs. Consequently, Dagnall should keep his head high and look to fire the net more frequently to help his team.
#5 Mohammed Rafi, Kerala Blasters FC
Another name from last year’s runners up to round off the top five strikers, is Mohammed Rafi. With a brilliant career cut short by the closure of Mahindra United and then a nasty injury, Rafi has come a long way to be a part of both the editions of Indian Super League. In the previous season he was a household name with the defending champions Atletico de Kolkata, making 10 appearances.
Kerala Blasters did not waste any time and signed up the local boy and he has impressed since then. With only 7 appearances, Rafi has booted in 4 goals already. His broad frame and clinical heading prowess make him an ideal poaching striker. His powerful shots kept a lot of goalkeepers worrisome in front of the goal. His team might not qualify for the top four, but that should not stop the ISL veteran to keep his scoring shoes home. Can he be the top scorer?
Right now it seems impossible, but it is the Indian Super League. Here fortunes change in fractions of seconds. Till then, lets football!