ISL Finals: HFC vs KBFC- The eighth edition of the Indian Super League was surely one of the most tightly contested and fierce campaigns. Several teams fought for the playoffs spots but only four of them made it to the semifinals. Jamshedpur FC created history by winning the ISL Shield whereas Hyderabad FC qualified for their first-ever ISL finals as they take on Kerala Blasters. Follow all the ISL 2021-22 LIVE Updates only on InsideSport.IN
Similarly, Kerala Blasters are also ready to end their slump and win their first-ever ISL trophy as they gear up for the finals. Therefore we look at the best performing players from both the teams featuring in the finals.
Here is the combined XI of Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters:
Goalkeeper: Prabhsukhan Gill
We anticipated the game was going to be physically demanding and we went all in. Now for the fight coming ahead we will need determined minds and even bigger hearts. #YennumYellow #WMK🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/6VI8GzOYZD
— Prabhsukhan Singh Gill (@SukhanGill01) March 12, 2022
It has been a bizarre season for goalkeepers in the Indian Super League but one name that stood tall among the rest was Prabhsukhan Gill. The young custodian who got his spot between the sticks due to injury to Albino Gomes soon became the mainstay with consistent performances. Gill currently holds the Golden Glove with seven clean sheets.
The former Indian Arrows man has grown in stature between the sticks under Ivan Vukomanovic’s tutelage. His exceptional passing helped the Serbian’s philosophy of playing out from the back. Gill also made some crucial saves to save the day for the Blasters.
Right back: Harmanjot Khabra
A lot of people were shocked when Harmanjot Khabra joined Kerala Blasters this summer. But the experienced defender has been a stalwart on the right-back position for the Blasters and has played a big role in shutting down wingers on the right flank. Khabra brought in a lot of defensive stability that the Yellow Army lacked in the last few years.
The 33-year-old also brought a lot of passion and leadership to this Kerala Blasters. He has been a major figure in the dressing room and has surely been a buoyant figure in guiding Vukomanovic’s men to their third ISL finals.
Centre back: Chinglensana Singh
Probably the most in-form Indian centre back, Chinglensana Singh has been a metronome for the Nizams this season. The Indian youngster has been one of the most consistent young defenders in the country and has been a vital cog in Manolo Marquez’s system this season. If last season was understanding Marquez’s style and making himself comfortable in defence, this season Sana has developed himself to be the leader for the Nizams at the back alongside Juanan.
Centre back: Ruivah Hormipan
Ruivah Hormipan had a proper breakthrough year with Kerala Blasters as Ivan Vukomanovic understood the talent in him and unleashed the youngster to realise his potential. The Serb had to fortify his defence and hence he played two foreign centre back sacrificing on one of the foreign forwards.
But then he paired up Hormipan with Mario Leskovic to allow that flexibility upfront. The former Indian Arrows defender has already made a name for himself in this season and delivered extremely mature performances in their journey through to the finals.
Left back: Akash Mishra
Over the years the Indian national team has seen several left-backs but Akash Mishra has to be one of the most talented. The youngster has everything in his power to become a big stalwart for Hyderabad FC and also for the Blue Tigers.
While he looked more attacking last season, Akash Mishra has developed his defensive side of the game a lot more in the current campaign. Couple with his pace, he genuinely makes a good case to be a long term solution for any coach in the left flank be it club or country.
Right wing: Sahal Abdul Samad
After a lot of hype in the last few seasons, Sahal Abdul Samad has finally given back something to his fans to be happy about. The Kerala Blasters fan favourite has been exemplary with performances this season as he has netted six goals and has been a very important part of the quartet including Luna, Vazquez and Diaz.
Sahal’s movement, awareness and close control have made him one of the craftiest players in the league. Also, the freedom that Vukomanovic provided him made him even more threatening than ever. Sahal has that ability to wriggle past several defenders and find that exceptional final ball.
Centre defensive midfielder: Joao Victor
The ever reliant Hyderabad FC captain has had a great season with the Nizams. He has helped him team build on the last campaign and this time they a contender to lift that trophy. Joao Victor has to be one of the most unsung players in the Indian Super League who does his job in silence and always helps players around him.
When Juanan was down with an injury, Victor slotted in as a centre back alongside CHinglensana and did a decent job. His presence as a captain and a senior professional is always very welcoming for the young Indian players. Also, he is an exceptional passer and brings that calming presence in the middle for Manolo Marquez’s men helping him win several midfield battles.
Centre defensive midfielder: Lalthathanga Khawlhring
Another player who has largely been under the radar this season has to be Puitea. The combative midfielder who always goes around doing his job often does not get his due as the limelight remains on stars like Vazquez, Luna, Sahal and others. Puitea has been exceptional in breaking up players and recycling possession. His ability to shrug off players from possession and then maintain it with calmness and precision makes him a very vital cog in Ivan Vukomanovic’s system.
Whatever the situation, the 23-year-old will never shy away from putting in a tackle to win back the possession. Similarly, some of his deliveries have also helped the Blasters forward gain some ground on their counterparts. Overall Puitea is a utility player which every coach requires to build a Championship winning team.
Left wing: Adrian Luna
A contender for the ISL Golden Ball, Luna has to be one of the signings of the season. He started slowly in the Durand Cup and with every game, he got better. Luna has scored some of the most sensational goals this season and has been a match-winner for the Kerala Blasters. The Uruguayan attacking midfielder featured on the left flank this season in Vukomanovic’s system which allowed him to cut in with his right foot and take shots on target.
The 29-year-old has till now netted six goals and mustered seven assists and can be the hero for the Yellow Army if he produces his magic on the finals against the Nizams. Apart from scoring goals and assisting, the Uruguayan midfielder is a leader who always hustles for balls and pushes his teammates to play at his level.
Right Forward: Alvaro Vazquez
Another star player who started slowly despite being one of the most high profile signings of this ISL season. Vazquez has surely lived up to the expectations for the Yellow Army and also for the Indian football fans in general. The former Swansea City forward has led the team with great maturity and dynamism.
Although the Spaniard has scored eight goals along with two assists in 22 appearances this season. Apart from scoring some sensational goals, Vazquez has managed to develop a great understanding with Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Adrian Luna, keeping the attacking third always fluid and creating space for each other. He is surely one of the players for big occasions and the fans will hope that he comes good on the big night.
Left Forward: Bartholomew Ogbeche
The ISL Golden Boot winner from this campaign, Bartholomew Ogbeche will hope to land that one last killer blows in the finals against his former team Kerala Blasters. The Nigerian forward has been sensational for Marquez’s men having scored 18 goals this season already.
Ogbeche is already eight ahead of the next best individual in the goalscorer’s charts. The experienced striker is known for his hard work and ability to create space apart from his prolific scoring prowess.