Kerala Blasters Mumbai City Indian Super League ISL Preview
Will Sahal Abdul Samad (left) or Rafael Bastos (right) prove to be the difference?

Indian Super League has been the cradle for the many talented youngsters to flourish, and thus it helped to open the doors for the Indian National Team. In the inaugural season of the ISL in 2014, we saw the rise of Sandesh Jinghan, who later became the wall of team India. He won the ISL Emerging Player of the Season award.

In the last season, it was Lalengmawia, also known as ‘Apuia’, was the winner of the ISL Emerging Player of the Season award in the seventh edition. In his second season with the Highlanders, the central midfielder blossomed into one of the league’s best Indian players. Now he plays for Mumbai City FC.

The influence of the Indian youngsters are rising in the league, and many foreign players have highly praised the performance of Indian footballers.

The rise of Sahal Abdul Samad can also be seen as a gift for Indian Football. Sahal Abdul Samad has a fan-favourite status at Kerala Blasters FC. The creative midfielder won the ISL Emerging Player of the Season award after his performances in the 2018-19 season, which was the second year for the player with the outfit. He played in 17 matches and impressed fans and neutrals alike with his control and technique on the ball.

But after that season, his performance dipped. After playing under different managers, he could not keep the consistency.

Currently, we are seeing the best form of Sahal with Kerala Blasters FC.

This season, under Ivan Vukomanovic, he is in his best shape. Sahal scored his second goal for the club against ATK Mohun Bagan on 19 November in the 2021–22 season opener, which ended in a 4–2 defeat for Kerala Blasters.

On 19 December, he found the net again in the match against defending champions Mumbai City FC, which they won 0–3 after Sahal opened the score-sheet in the 27th minute of the game.

Sahal scored again in the next match against rivals Chennaiyin on 22 December, where he scored the second goal of the game as the Blasters repeated the same feat of the previous matchday by winning the game 0–3 at full-time.

He scored his fourth goal of the season, and his third consecutive goal in the match against Jamshedpur FC on 26 December, which they drew 1–1 after the equalizer scored by Sahal in the 27th minute of the game. He thus became the second Indian player after Sunil Chhetri to score in three consecutive Indian Super League matches.