Top 5 Midfielders of the 2023 Super Cup
The 2023 Super Cup ended on an unforgettable note at EMS Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala with Odisha getting crowned as the champion after beating former winners Bengaluru.
Clifford Miranda’s Juggernauts entered the tournament as the underdogs. However, stellar performances against the likes of top Indian Clubs such as Hyderabad and NorthEast United landed them in the final.
In the final, they brawled against the Durand Cup winners as well as former Indian Super Cup Champions, Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru. Playing a match full of intense moments and top-notch performances, the Kalinga Warriors claimed their victory and wrote history.
The Cup competition offered numerous surprises to football fans across the nation with Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and Hero I-League clubs leaving no stone unturned. All the teams gave their best in making the campaign memorable in every aspect of the game.
As a result, few individual performances from top players stood out in the eyes of the fans as well as the professionals. These individual efforts will be difficult to forget and easy to praise. All the positions are equally important in a game of football, but the midfielders are the backbone of a team.
Hence, let’s take a look at the list of five midfielders who had the most impressive campaign in the 2023 edition of the Super Cup.
5. Victor Rodriguez (Odisha)
Without Victor Rodriguez, the efforts of Deigo Mauricio, and Nandhakumar Sekar would have been in vain. He was brilliantly paired with Nandhakumar Sekar and Jerry Mawihmingthanga as their one-to-one passes were quick, crisp, and an absolute threat to the opposition teams.
Rodriguez was among the most intelligent playmakers in the cup tournament and his clever movement across the ground was vital for the Juggernauts. The Spaniard created enough chances for the side’s skipper, Deigo Mauricio to get on the scoresheet and emerge as the top-scorer of the side.
The attacking midfielder also found the back of the net against Hyderabad in their last match of the group stage, which was also a virtual quarterfinal for the teams. Rodriguez played the role of the senior playmaker for the Juggernauts.
He was amazing in the group stage but he was even better in the playoffs. His calm and composed game captured everyone’s attention as the enforcer also made plenty of late runs in the final third to make an impact.
4. Rafael Crivellaro (Jamshedpur)
During ISL, Rafael Crivellaro struggled to keep up with his form and the pace of the competition after suffering an injury and staying out of football for a long time. When he arrived at the Super Cup, he wasn’t in his top form.
However, it’s fair to say that he rediscovered his form in the cup competition. The 34-year-old was brilliant with the ball in addition to an outrageous vision. His agile and top-notch decision-making skills mixed with his experience played a pivotal role in almost all of their matches.
With Rafael Crivellaro changing shifts from attack to defense, he helped the Red Miners top the group with three straight wins over 2022-23 ISL Champions ATK Mohun Bagan, former Super Cup winners Goa, and former I-League runner-up Gokulam Kerela.
In the semi-final against Bengaluru, Rafael played a major role in the first half and made a couple of key chances. However, The Red Miners lost the match in the second half as Jayesh Rane and Sunil Chettri scored to make the score 2-0. The Brazilian made a total of four appearances in the tournament scoring two goals and providing two assists.
3. Jayesh Rane (Bengaluru)
Jayesh Rane’s semi-final performance against Jamshedpur was the highlight of his Super Cup campaign. Bengaluru was struggling to even keep possession in the first half but beheaded Aidy Boothroyd’s side after half-time following Jayesh Rane’s excellent in-game understanding with Sivasakthi Narayanan.
Coming as a super sub didn’t only get his name on the scoresheet, as he also helped the side in deep pressing into the opponent’s half. His brilliant performance helped him get a chance in the playing XI of Simon Grayson’s final playing Bengaluru.
His performance in the final wasn’t really impressive but he did manage to leave an impact on the game creating a number of forward runs and passes. However, due to fewer appearances, he lacked the creative touch which Javi Hernandez provided in the middle of the park.
2. Apuia (Mumbai City)
Following a brilliant 2022-23 ISL campaign, fans were excited to watch Apuia’s cup campaign. The 2020-21 ISL Emerging Player of the Season played a major role in helping Mumbai City capture the League Winners’ Shield.
Apuia was in great form when Mumbai City’s 2023 Super Cup campaign started. Being the anchor of the team, Apuia helped Des Buckingham’s side get over major challenges such as Chennaiyin and Churchill Brothers.
Apuia is well-known for his composure and distribution on the pitch. The 22-year-old acquires a brilliant and agile ability to switch from attack to defense as he also stays aware of the surroundings helping his side record two wins in the competition.
However, his campaign ended in the group stage as Mumbai City recorded a loss against NorthEast United. Buckingham’s side had equal points as Flyod Pinto’s team but the result went in the favor of the Highlanders because they had a better goal difference following their thumping win over I-League side Churchill Brothers.
1. Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Odisha)
Jerry Mawihmingthanga habitually plays as a winger dominant on the right flank for Odisha. However, when Deigo Mauricio and Nandhakumar Sekar took over the change of attacking and getting on the scoreboard, he shifted himself back and started helping Victor Rodriguez in playmaking.
To everyone’s surprise, Mawihmingthanga stunned the audience with his magnificent presence of mind. From providing crosses to making key passes, Jerry was ruling the ground.
His best performance came against NorthEast United in the semi-final where Mawihmingthanga’s cross to Nandhakumar at the near post helped Odisha equalize in the game. The 26-year-old’s work rate was also praiseworthy in the whole cup competition making him a top contender for the Indian national football team.