Top 5 Defenders of the 2023 Indian Super Cup

Odisha made history after they secured the 2023 Super Cup title

Coming back after a hiatus of four years, the 2023 Super Cup turned out to be a huge success. The tournament returned with a set of new and changed rules as the fans saw numerous breathtaking contests between the I-League and Indian Super League Clubs. 

In all the matches, all the sides portrayed brilliant football in addition to incredible athleticism and sportsmanship. Hence, in conclusion, a new champion was crowned as the winner of the highly competitive tournament. 

After days of hot-blooded action from one side to another, Odisha emerged victorious overshadowing all the other 15 sides that participated in the 2023 Super Cup. Odisha’s head coach Clifford Miranda outclassed the fancy of all the other foreign coaches as he became the first Indian coach to win a major trophy for an ISL club. 

Following the triumph, Miranda said that the victory belongs to the players as without them the victory was not possible. The Juggernauts would have walked out victorious, but Bengaluru‘s effort wasn’t less commendable. This season’s Durand Cup winners were playing their third final of the 2022-23 season after coming up short against ATK Mohun Bagan in the final of ISL. 

All the players gave their best at every possible juncture, but the defenders stole the show a number of times following stellar performances. On a similar note, let’s take a look at the top 5 defenders of the 2023 Super Cup. 

#5 Naorem Roshan Singh (Bengaluru)

Bengaluru had a memorable 2022-23 campaign, however, the luck left their side whenever they reached a final after Durand Cup. In the Indian Super League, they performed well as they finished their season in the fourth spot on the league table but lost the chance to lift the trophy on penalties while Odisha trumped the Karanataka-based side in the 2023 Super Cup final in normal time.

Nevertheless, the great performances provided by the players of the Blues should not go unnoticed. One such player was Naorem Roshan Singh. The Indian right-back played a pivotal role in the group stage as well as the playoffs to help his side reach the final. 

The 24-year-old full-back was in top-notch form in the ISL and it’s fair to say that he carried the same momentum to his Super Cup campaign. Roshan is a versatile defender and he only requires a little time to prove that. 

#4 Sahil Panwar (Odisha)

Panwar showed his defending as well as attacking prowess for Odisha in the Super Cup

Sahil Panwar was surely the underdog who made his value evident in clutch situations for the Juggernauts. Without any possible confusion, the 23-year-old was well-versed in his duties on the ground. Panwar is renowned by Indian fans for his on-ground accuracy, ability to provide corners, and make forward runs.

However, in this edition of the Super Cup, he announced that he’s a complete full-back by portraying stellar defensive skills. The young Indian defender frustrated the likes of top players such as Roy Krishna, Sunil Chettri, and Wilmar Jordán Gil by not letting them get comfortable in dangerous positions. 

After saving his side from possible danger, Panwar also haunted the opposition with solid cross-flank passes and corner kicks. Hence, Sahil Panwar had a memorable campaign and he proved that he is a top prospect for Indian football. 

#3 Narender Gahlot (Odisha) 

The 22-year-old Narender Gahlot was exceptional in his first Indian Super Cup campaign. Gahlot was also called up by the Indian National team recently, however, after the triumph, he’ll possibly cement a spot for himself in the playing XI. 

The young Indian full-back was primarily playing as the right-back for the Juggernauts. Irrespective of that, he indulged in all the action done on the backline. He didn’t allow the top attackers of the tournament to get a room inside their keeper’s box and attempt a possible shot. 

From Bengaluru to Hyderabad, Gahlot played a major role in all the victories recorded by Odisha. Also, he found an almost perfect rhyme with Sahil Panwar across the tournament which is a piece of good news for the Indian national football team as well.  Arguably, his best performance came against NorthEast United in the semi-final where he rightfully pocketed the likes of in-form target man Wilmar Jordán Gil.

#2 Fares Arnaout (Goa)

Fares Arnaout was brilliant in the backline of Goa but his campaign was short-lived

Among all the great attempts made by the defenders from different teams, Goa’s Fares Arnaout’s effort seems to go unnoticed. The Gaurs entered the 2023 Indian Super Cup as the defending champion, however, they were not the same team who lifted the prestigious title four years ago. 

After an unimpressive ISL season, Goa provided a similar display in the season’s last cup competition. The Gaurs suffered a loss in their season opener against Jamshedpur, hence, their other two winning attempts went into vain following the loss. 

Goa’s attack had huge loopholes that restricted them from scoring and in addition to that Carlos Pena’s arrival and departure made things more congested. However, Fares Arnaout was the one shining in the line-up of the Gaurs. 

The Syrian also managed to keep two clean sheets. And, he also scored against ATK Mohun Bagan to assure his side three valuable points. Arnaout gave a couple of five-star performances but that all went in vain following their 5-3 loss against the Red Miners.

#1 Osama Malik (Odisha)

Osama Malik was the lynchpin for Odisha in the backline. The Australian’s experience played a huge role in making the Juggernauts’ defense rock-solid. The defensive key figure safeguarded the backline expertly and he also got ample support from his Spanish teammate, Carlos Delgado.

The great coordination between the backline of Clifford Miranda’s Odisha was the major reason why Diego Maurício and Nandhakumar Sekar were able to commit themselves forward independently. Apart from a brilliant defensive performance by making clearances and interferences, Osama Malik also played a pivotal role in pressing with his key passes.

His partnership with Carlos Delgado turned out to be decisive as they controlled the game even in pressure and clutch situations, especially against Hyderabad and Bengaluru where immense amounts of stress were present as opposition teams were desperate for an equalizer.