The month of January saw Mohun Bagan return of the I-League; Dempo regain their form with some delightful performances; Churchill Brothers continue their unbeaten run at the top of the table and teams like East Bengal and Pune FC is losing their way out. Bottom table teams like Salgaocar, Sporting Clube de Goa, Shillong Lajong and United Sikkim struggled to save themselves from the drop. TheHardTackle look into the players who mesmerised fans with their performance. 

Goalkeeper

Bruno Colaco (Sporting Clube de Goa): The youngster who made his debut for Flaming Orange recently has been very impressive. He is the 5th goalkeeper to play for the Sporting this season but possibly the best so far. The SESA football academy graduate joined the club during winter transfer window on loan from Margao SC before delighting fans with heroics against Salgaocar FC and looks a bright prospect for the future.

Defenders

Belo Razaq (Prayag United): The Prayag United defender has been one of the  most consistent performers for his team. The Nigerian has been in good form throughout the season. He has also contributed to offence and has been a constant threat from set-pieces. His beautiful free kick helped the club to earn hard fought victory against Sporting Club de Goa.

Anwar Ali (United Sikkim): The veteran defender and captain of the United Sikkim has been one of the very few bright sparks for the troubled North Eastern side. During his absence in the back the Sikkim team suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of the defending champions Dempo. The centre back shown leadership quality and inspired the youngsters to excel, which helped them to earn draw against mighty Mohun Bagan in Kolkata.

Deepak Mondal (Prayag United): The former India International has adjusted well to his new role in the right back. Mandal has been a leader and helped his team to a victory over Pune FC. The defender moved up whenever his team needed him and provided good service in attacking third and also helped them when it came to closing down the rival attacks.

Wahid Sali (ONGC): The ONGC defender has been form of his life. Sali has been consistent in last few matches and has helped the team to continue their dream run under the new coach Santosh Kashyap. His performance helped them to upset some big teams and earn few crucial points.

Midfielders

Beto (Churchill Brothers): The talismanic captain of the Churchill brothers has been in impressive form. Baring the match against Mumbai FC where he did not play a full match due to injury, he has always been impressive. The attacking midfielder has been the main creative spark behind march of the Red Machines.  The midfielder will look to continue his good work and help the team to continue their unbeaten run but his injury can hamper his team’s title chances.

Pratesh Shirodkar (Sporting Clube de Goa): The SESA academy product has been a live wire on the wings. The diminutive winger has troubled rival defenders with his darting runs. He has played a crucial role in the resurgence of Sporting club de Goa in recent matches. The youngster will have a major role to play to help the team to survive in the league.

Arata Azumi (Pune FC): it was just a matter of time to see Arata Azumi in the national colours. The Japanese born Indian will become first PIO who will represent India. The midfielder has done well this month helping the team in quest of their maiden I-League title. He will have a well deserved opportunity to replicate his performance with the national team.

Clifford Miranda (Dempo SC): The veteran midfielder has been a lone warrior in a Dempo side which has struggled often this season. The winger has provided a number of assists as well as scored goals for the five time champions. He has scored 5 goals so far and tops the goal scorer list for Indians. Miranda will look to continue his good run and help team to retain the I-League title.

Forwards:

Chidi Edeh (Kingfisher East Bengal): The striker helped his team to stay in the hunt with the brace against the Pune FC. The Nigerian has been good form and has single handedly kept the Red and Golds in the hunt for the title. The former Mohun Bagan and Salgaocar striker has shown real goal poacher’s attitude. If East Bengal has to entertain any hope of winning the I-League title then Chidi has to continue his good run and score goals for the team.

Henry Antchouet (Churchill Brothers): The Gabonese international has started to find back of the net in last few matches. The striker has stiff competition from striking department within the team but his braces against East Bengal and Paillan Arrows helped the Churchill brothers to increase their lead at the top of the table. The striker will look to continue his goal scoring form which has earned him starting XI which he had lost to Akram Moghrabi some time back.

Reserve Bench

Lal Kamal Bhowmick (Prayag United): The Prayag United playmaker, after a subdued start to the season finally joined the party. The midfielder has proved his mettle for Praya and earned a long awaited place in the national team. Bhowmik has been an impressive figure in the heart of midfield and helped the team to produce some positive results recently.

Thirthankar Sarkar (Paillan Arrows): The young Paillan Arrows midfielder has started to show lots of promise. The youngster has been good form and was not affected the poor run of form of his team. The youngster’s late goal against United Sikkim helped the young Arrows team to avoid a defeat. Sarkar will look to continue his good run and attract attention of bigger clubs.

Gabriel Fernandes (Mumbai FC): Gabriel Fernandes, since coming in the Mumbai FC side has shown remarkable improvement. The youngster from Porvorim is one of the reasons why Mumbai FC is performing above everyone’s expectations.  The striker has been in prime form and his astonishing goal against East Bengal helped his team to upset the title favourites.

Sandeep Nandy (Churchill Brothers): The oldest player in  I-league has been excellent under the bar, performing better than players who are half of his age. The goalkeeper has been a leader behind the defence and his performance for the league leaders has helped him to earn a place in national team.