ISL: Stars to watch out

ISL: Stars to watch out

ISL: Stars to watch out

The past three seasons of the Indian Super League (ISL) saw a handful of stars  set the tone for the side's success.

This year too things seem no different. We take a look at five players who could prove to be the difference for their teams when the fourth edition of the ISL kicks-off on Friday.

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)

Position: Forward

This man needs no special introduction.  The  leading goal scorer for India with 55 international goals, Chhetri has been an integral part of Bengaluru FC ever since its inspection. And that's unlikely to change as he will  be tasked with leading Bengaluru in their debut ISL campaign.

In the ISL, he has turned out for Mumbai City FC in the past two seasons, netting seven times in 2015. He will be key to Albert Roca's plan in the ISL this season.

Iain Hume (Kerala Blasters)

Position: Forward

The most successful goal scorer in the history of this league, Hume returns to the Kerala Blasters following a two-year stint at ATK.

The Canadian has 23 goals in the ISL so far  - he scored five for Kerala in the first season and 18 for ATK in the next two. His time in Kolkata also saw him win the title in 2016, where he would ironically beat the Blasters in the final.  

Speed and anticipation has been Hume's biggest asset during his time in India and he will hoping to continue the fine run, this time, in the company of a former Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)

Position: Goalkeeper

So far, we have only heard of Gurpreet as the first Indian to play in a top division European league. His time at the Norwegian club Stabaek FC has gone a long way in making him the best goalkeeper in the country. His quality was on display when he took the field for Bengaluru FC in the AFC Cup matches last month.

A confident 'keeper who likes to call the shots inside his box, Gurpreet is a coach's delight. And it was no surprise Bengaluru's coach Albert Roca was the happiest when Gurpreet was cleared for the opening game against Mumbai City FC on Sunday.  Gurpreet will be keen on giving Bengaluru the  solidity in the goal.

Marcelinho (FC Pune City)

Position: Forward

For a team that doesn't boast of any big names, he is their biggest star. By far FC Pune City's best signing this season, Marcelinho's goal scoring exploits for Delhi Dynamos last season secured the Brazilian the Golden Boot award.

The 30-year-old netted 10 times and was equally fluent in providing for his side with five assists as Delhi romped to their best finish.

Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC)

Position: Forward

Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri rates him very highly. For Chhetri,  Jeje Lalpekhlua is the best striker in the country.  Currently one of India's most valued and in-form strikers, Lalpekhlua has been part of Chennaiyin FC's setup since the ISL's inception in 2014.

His Chennaiyin tally stands at a modest 13 goals, with 2015 turning out to be his best year with six goals. But given his recent run of form, Lalpekhlua is tipped to finish as one of the tournament's leading goal scorers.