Best XI of 2024 Kalinga Super Cup ft. Cleiton Silva, Ahmed Jahouh, Valpuia, and Daniel Chima Chukwu

unnamed   2024 01 31T075444.604
Cleiton Silva was the leading goal-scorer of the tournament

In its fourth installment, the Kalinga Super Cup arguably was at its peak, with history being created at the tournament in multiple ways. 

With the matches running concurrently with India’s AFC Asian Cup ties, many teams who have been comparatively less successful in the Indian circuit got a chance to punch above their weights this time around. But no punch was more fierce than that of East Bengal, who won their first national-level trophy since the Federation Cup win in 2012, after a thrilling 3-2 final win over Odisha.

In this article, we will take a look at the best XI of the tournament:

Goalkeeper: Lalthuammawia Ralte (Odisha)

Considering Odisha already have a member of the Indian national team in Amrinder Singh to guard the goal, Lalthuammawia Ralte has not had any chances in the Indian Super League this season. 

But having got his opportunity at the Super Cup, he has presented Sergio Lobera with some thinking to do. Ralte conceded just five goals in as many matches and kept three clean sheets, which came against Bengaluru, Inter Kashi and Mumbai City. He also got the best goalkeeper of the tournament award.

Defenders: Mohamad Rakip (East Bengal), Hijazi Maher (East Bengal), Mourtada Fall (Odisha), Valpuia (Mumbai City)

Like Ralte, East Bengal’s right-back Mohamad Rakip has found it difficult to get chances in the ISL, but here in the Super Cup, he played a vital role in his team’s victory. Rakip was rock-solid in defense, helping East Bengal keep one clean sheet and also put up a valiant defensive display in the Kolkata Derby against Mohun Bagan Super Giant. Besides that, he was also a handful in attack, getting an assist in the team’s 3-2 win over Hyderabad.

Hijazi Maher was adjudged to be the best defender of the tournament

Unlike the first two names we have mentioned, Hijazi Maher was always expected to do well in the Super Cup, given how brilliant he has been in the league season for East Bengal.

The Jordanian did not disappoint, as he single-handedly kept his team in the hunt in multiple matches. Besides his defensive stability, we also got to know about Maher’s knack for scoring goals from set-pieces in this tournament, as he scored against Sreenidi Deccan and Jamshedpur. He was also adjudged to be the best defender of the tournament.

Mourtada Fall’s inclusion might surprise a few, given that he was handing marching orders in the final, but he makes the cut because of how he performed throughout the length of the competition. 

The Senegalese central defender was among the major reasons behind the Kalinga Warriors not conceding a single goal against Bengaluru and Inter Kashi in the group stage, and then against Mumbai City in the semi-final. Like Maher, he scored two goals as well, both of them coming in the 3-2 win against Goa.

While some managers used up every trick they could to progress in this tournament, a few coaches like Mumbai City’s Petr Kratky saw it as an opportunity to field youngsters who can be an asset for the team in the future. 

One of those players is the young defender Valpuia, who showed his leadership abilities despite being only 23 years of age. With Valpuia marshalling the troops, the Islanders kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Chennaiyin. As it turns out, he also scored the winner for his team in that match.

Midfielders: Saul Crespo (East Bengal), Ahmed Jahouh (Odisha), Ramhlunchhunga (Hyderabad)

East Bengal’s midfielder orchestrator Saul Crespo has blown hot and cold in the ISL season, but there was hardly anyone more consistent than the Spaniard in the Kalinga Super Cup. 

Operating just ahead of the pairing of Maher and Jose Antonio Pardo in the heart of defense, Crespo was responsible for preventing most of the opposition’s goal-scoring chances. Moreover, he was also brilliant in attack. Crespo scored two goals – coming against Hyderabad and in the final against Odisha, and gave one assist – against Jamshedpur in the semi-final.

One can be angry at the football gods for letting Ahmed Jahouh end up on the losing side of the final because he was among the best players in the tournament. Despite being firm with his defensive responsibilities, the Moroccan found a way to be a menacing threat in attack as well. 

He scored three goals – against Bengaluru, Goa, and most importantly, a flashy panenka penalty kick in the last second of regulation time against East Bengal in the final. He also gave two assists, both of which came against Goa. Jahouh won the best midfielder of the tournament award, and very rightfully so.

With the club being in dire financial troubles currently, Hyderabad was forced to field mostly academy graduates in this competition, with no foreigner to aid their cause. Although the Nizams lost every single match, they will be happy with how some of the youngsters performed, with the highlight being Ramhlunchhunga. The 22-year-old footballer from Mizoram scored two goals for Hyderabad, which came against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

Forwards: Cleiton Silva (East Bengal), Isak Vanlalruatfela (Odisha), Daniel Chima Chukwu (Jamshedpur)

Isak Vanlalruatfela was bestowed with the Player of the Tournament award

Isak Vanlalruatfela cannot be called the ‘find of the Super Cup’ since he has also done well in the ISL season, but beyond any doubt, he elevated his game to an uncharted level in this competition. Bursting down the left flank for Odisha in every single game, Isak got an assist and a goal, both of which came against Inter Kashi. For his excellent contribution and work rate throughout the competition, he was awarded the Player of the Tournament honor.

Being placed in a group alongside NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters, not many expected Jamshedpur to qualify for the semi-finals. But they did so, thanks to their talismanic Nigerian frontman, Daniel Chima Chukwu

The 32-year-old played just two matches in this tournament but scored three goals – once against the Highlanders and twice against the Tuskers. Unfortunately, a red card against Kerala Blasters meant he could not take any further part in the competition.

While most of the youngsters had a good time in the Kalinga Super Cup, the limelight was stolen by a player who is approaching his 37th birthday. East Bengal’s ever-reliable Brazilian striker, Cleiton Silva was the leading goal-scorer of this tournament with five goals. 

Silva scored a brace against Hyderabad, before doing the same in the Kolkata Derby against Mohun Bagan Super Giant. But all of those goals would not have meant much, had not scored an absolute ripper in the extra-time of the final against Odisha. All of that being said, he also got an assist in the match against Sreenidi Deccan.


Prabhsukhan Singh Gill; Amey Ranawade, Carlos Delgado, Muhammed Uvais; Jeremy Manzorro, Puitea, Imran Khan; Diego Mauricio, Ayush Chhikara.