ISL 2023: Best XI of the Indian Super League season

As the Indian Super League (ISL) season draws to a close, several names have impressed across the five-month period. New youngsters have entered the fray, few names have made a comeback after a disappointing season and a few have consistently shown their class.

Here is Sportstar’s ISL XI of the season with only 4 foreign players (Formation: 4-3-3)

Vishal Kaith

From having no part to play in the now-defunct FC Pune City squad in 2016 to being dropped at Chennaiyin FC last year to being the first-choice keeper of ISL finalist, ATK Mohun Bagan, Vishal Kaith’s career graph has seen an upward curve.

Kaith has played 23 matches for the Mariners this season and has kept 12 clean sheets, the most in this ISL campaign. He has conceded 17 goals from the 82 shots on target, maintaining a save percentage of 79.26%.

Vishal Kaith of ATK Mohun Bagan has been the standout ‘keeper.
| Photo Credit: R. Parthibhan

He made a crucial save off Javier Siverio’s penalty in the semifinal second-leg shootout against Hyderabad FC and has been a significant reason behind ATKMB reaching the final.


Roshan Naorem Singh

Bengaluru FC’s Roshan Naorem Singh has been a revelation for Simon Grayson’s side this season. A modern fullback in the truest sense, Roshan’s biggest asset is his two-footed ability which allows him to operate on either side efficiently.

A product of the AIFF Elite Academy, he rose through the ranks after joining BFC’s reserve team.

Roshan has been a solid presence in the Bengaluru backline, with impressive figures. He has 86 tackles, 31 interceptions, 26 clearances and 31 blocks and will be an important figure for BFC in the final against ATKMB, which has a threatening attacking arsenal.

While he has not scored a goal, Roshan has done well in terms of attacking output and is dangerous with his crossing. He has three assists to his name and has created 25 chances in 23 matches.

Pritam Kotal

Pritam Kotal has been a mainstay in the heart of the ATK Mohun Bagan backline for quite sometime now. The Mariners captain’s impressive performances at centre-back have been a crucial reason behind ATKMB having the joint-best defensive record with 12 clean sheets.

Kotal conceded 16 goals and kept 11 clean sheets in 22 matches this season. That means when Kotal is on the pitch, his team conceded a goal every 124 minutes. Moreover, he’s made 0.62 tackles and 1.90 interceptions for every 90 minutes.

Mehtab Singh

Mumbai City lost out on a final spot after losing a penalty shootout against Bengaluru FC in the semifinals. Still, Des Buckingham’s men had a good season as far as defensive numbers are concerned.

Mehtab Singh of Mumbai City FC celebrates a goal during the first semi final - Leg 2 of the HERO INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE 2022 played between Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru in India on 12th March  2023.

Photo:  Pal PILLAI/Focus Sports/ ISL

Mehtab Singh of Mumbai City FC celebrates a goal during the first semi final – Leg 2 of the HERO INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE 2022 played between Bengaluru FC and Mumbai City FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru in India on 12th March 2023.
Photo: Pal PILLAI/Focus Sports/ ISL
| Photo Credit: Pal PILLAI

Mehtab Singh was a crucial presence in the Islanders’ backline that kept seven clean sheets throughout the campaign. Playing alongside the experienced Mourtada Fall, the centre-back is known for his robust tackling and no-nonsense approach. In terms of figures, Mehrab had 36 tackles, 25 interceptions, 76 clearances and made 45 blocks.

He also made contributions to Mumbai’s attacking play by scoring two goals, including one in the second leg of the semifinal.

Akash Mishra

Known for his foraging runs into the final third, Akash Mishra has been unfortunate this season in not having a goal contribution.

However, the fullback played his part in helping Hyderabad FC enjoying the joint-best defensive record this season. He made 81 tackles this season, along with 35 interceptions, 53 clearances and 33 blocks.

In attack, Mishra has created nine chances from the flanks and enjoys an impressive 69.89 per cent pass accuracy.


Carl McHugh

Carl McHugh is the calm and unwavering presence every team wants from their defensive midfielder.

Equally adept in tackling and creating chances for the forward line, McHugh has had a major role to play in the middle of the park for ATK Mohun Bagan. Be it his vision to make line-breaking passes or make crucial challenges to break up play, McHugh does it all.

The Irish midfielder has scored three goals and bagged one assist this season, along with creating 14 chances. In defence, he has made 85 tackles, 20 interceptions, 38 clearances, and 20 blocks.

Javier Hernandez

Bengaluru’s Spanish midfielder, Javier Hernandez, has undoubtedly been one of the most influential players in this season’s ISL.

Blessed with a versatile range, Hernandez can unlock defenses with his skilful passing, act as a poacher by being in the right place at the right time and find the net with his shots from long distances.

Mainly operating in midfield, where he uses his vision to create chances for the forward-line, the Spaniard does not shy away from getting inside the box, in good scoring positions, whenever he has the chance.

Javi has 12 goals contributions – seven goals and five assists – in 21 matches. He has also created 42 chances for BFC in this season.

Hugo Boumous

Hugo Boumous is unplayable on his day. Mazy runs, top-notch shielding of the ball, defence-splitting passes and finding the net – the Frenchman has all these qualities in his arsenal.

Hugo Boumous of ATK Mohun Bagan.

Hugo Boumous of ATK Mohun Bagan.
| Photo Credit: PAL PILLAI

Boumous has won everywhere he has played – he was part of the FC Goa team that won the inagural League shield in the 2019-20 season, his best season in terms of numbers. He then moved to Mumbai City FC, where he won the double (League Shield and ISL title) in the 2020-21 season.

After making his move to ATKMB in the 2021-22 season, Boumous has not won silverware but has been an immense presence in the Mariners’ midfield. This season, he has scored five goals and made four assists. He is a player Bengaluru FC definitely will need to look out for in the ISL 2022-23 final.


Lallianzuala Chhangte

Mumbai City’s Lallianzuala Chhangte matched Sunil Chhetri’s record for most goal contributions in an ISL season

The Islanders forward had the season of his life with ten goals and six assists and while there would be a hint of disappointment for not being able to break the record and losing out the semifinals on a penalty-shootout, he would be proud of the shift he put in for Mumbai this season.

Lallianzuala Chhangte of Mumbai City FC celebrates after scoring a goal.

Lallianzuala Chhangte of Mumbai City FC celebrates after scoring a goal.
| Photo Credit: Satish Kumar P 2577@Chennai

Chhangte has terrorised defenders constantly with his immaculate dribbling skills in the final third. Complementing that, is his ability to get into good scoring positions and the ability to find his teammates with his passes.

The Mizoram player is a big reason behind Mumbai City finishing as the highest-scoring team this season with 56 goals.

Cleiton Silva

This name might come as a surprise in the ISL team of the season. But, Cleiton Silva has performed expectations with an under-performing East Bengal FC side.

Cleiton scored 12 goals in this ISL campaign and is joint-top scorer with Diego Mauricio of Odisha FC with 12 goals. East Bengal, as a team, has collectively scored 22 goals, which means Silva has scored more than 50% of the goals for East Bengal this season.

A prolific forward in front of goal, Cleiton is equally adept with head and feet, which makes him an asset in the frontline. He also poses a considerable threat from set-pieces. After all, who can forget his freekick against Bengaluru FC at the Salt Lake Stadium at home, that won the match for East Bengal in the dying minutes.

Silva also has one assist along with his 12 goals and created 20 chances for his team throughout the season.

Sivasakthi Narayanan

India has another rising talent in Bengaluru FC’s Sivasakthi Narayanan. Rising through the ranks, Sivasakthi was one of the star players in Bengaluru’s Durand Cup-winning team earlier in the season.

Francisco Javier Hernandez and Sivasakthi Narayanan have been key to Bengaluru’s resurgence.

Francisco Javier Hernandez and Sivasakthi Narayanan have been key to Bengaluru’s resurgence.
| Photo Credit: Pal PILLAI

He carried his form into the ISL season and has been one of the standout players in the tournament. A dogged player with a brilliant work ethic, Sivasakthi has the perfect balance of skill and aggression that makes him such a threat on the flanks. Apart from goalscoring abilities, Sivasakthi is a good crosser of the ball. His qualities have meant he has even benched the team’s star striker Chhetri for the better part of the season.

This season, Sivasakthi has found the net six times and made three assists till now. He has already shown that he is a big game player by scoring in the Durand Cup final. Likely to start against ATKMB in the summit clash, it remains to be seen whether the youngster can maintain his streak of scoring in finals.

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