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2021: A Promising Year ahead for Indian footballers

2020 has definitely been a year with ebbs and flows with all sporting events coming to a halt but, as soon as the sporting events resumed with first the German soccer league, Bundesliga, then La Liga, and then English Premier League followed by the UEFA Champions League.

In India, the sporting events resumed with the Indian Premier League. Unfortunately, the conditions were not suitable in India. It was shifted to Dubai and concluded with another successful edition, followed by the domestic cricket and India Tour of Australia, other sporting events like football also resumed. The Indian Super League and I-league also started and, interestingly, there was no need of shifting ISL outside India, in a meeting with the footballing authority in India it was decided that all the matches will take place at a single venue, which Goa was chosen with its several stadiums and most importantly, it is organized in a bio bubble and a very secured manner. However, all these sporting events are organized with proper COVID measures and the safety of the teams.

But, amidst all these, this season of ISL 2020-21 has seen the rise of many new and young talents and who has a promising future. In India, the Indian Super League along with I-League has provided a perfect stage for many young and new talents to show their brilliance and to be the future of the Indian Football Team.

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Let’s have a look at those shinning stars:

Lalengmawia (NorthEast United FC)

After a fine debut season, Lalengmawia will look to add more strings to his  bow

He has been in the limelight in the ISL 2020-21 season as he became the youngest player ever in the ISL to lead a team when he was handed the captain’s armband by Gerard Nus at 20 years and 44 days. Also, the youngster has partnered well in the central midfield with Khassa Camara.

The youngster has passing accuracy of 74% which shows his capability on the ball and, also as an ideal box-to-box midfielder. The best aspect about his game is that with the ball at his feet he always has the aim to forward pass while without it, also he is the first one to drop into the back position and help out in the defence. 

Suresh Singh Wangjam (Bengaluru FC)

ISL | Commitment pays off for Bengaluru FC's Wangjam - The Hindu
Source-The Hindu

Another youngster who has impressed everyone with his ability to understand the game and maturity is Bengaluru FC’s young Suresh Wangjam. Ever since he was included in the playing XI, he has been a great discovery.

This on-going season has witnessed Wangjam role in the midfield-three role alongside Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu, where he has proved to be highly effective. Wangjam clearly has a bright future ahead oh him.

Akash Mishra (Hyderabad FC)

Akash Mishra (Image courtesy:ISL)

19-year-old Akash Mishra, the defender from Uttar Pradesh is one among very few players who can slide into any of the four positions in defence. He has impressed in the last two seasons of I-League with the developmental side, Indian Arrows in the Mishra, and was roped in by Hyderabad FC.

His impressive performance became an instant success for him as a left full-back. He always assures on the ball and seems to know when to bomb the ball forward and also keeps an eye for a shot. His crossing from the left flank has been top notch too, and for a young player in his first ISL season, his maturity amongst Hyderabad FC backline is indeed commendable.

Ninthoi Meetei (NorthEast United)

Ninthoi: Kerala have a good attack

Another youngster who has grabbed the attention is North-East United FC’s Ninthoi, who has impressed everyone with his extremely good understanding of the game and maturity this season.

Coach Gerard Nus has been giving him the freedom to express himself down the right side of NorthEast’s midfield during the match and the 19-year-old did, has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He features in the list for top tacklers and interceptors in the Indian Super League which is actually once in a blue moon for a winger. His passing and off-the-ball movement have been brilliant and, his ability to make defenders commit to a tackle before dribbling it past them is commendable.

Liston Colaco (Hyderabad FC) 

Why Liston Colaco is the next big thing in Indian football

The 22-year-old boy from Goa has always been a great discovery. He first appeared through playing for Salgaocar FC in local age-group tournament, before he got promoted to the AIFF U-18 tournament final in 2016.

FC Goa picked him up in 2017 and he went on to make his ISL debut in the 2017-18 season and got 70 minutes of action in his first two seasons with the club. It was a different scenario at the start of the 2019-20 season under Sergio Lobera, as he made just three appearances and got only 9 minutes of game time. He is definitely the next big thing in Indian football.

Mohamad Rakip (Mumbai City FC)

Mohamad Rakip signs for Mumbai City

The young fullback for Mumbai City FC, Mohamad Rakip had a passing accuracy of 78% besides 77 touches of the ball. Defensively, Rakip has successful tackles, successful interceptions and blocks as well. He has been extraordinaire for the team and also had his name on the ISL’s team of the week several times. He definitely has a bright future ahead of him if given a chance properly.

Deepak Tangri (Chennaiyin FC)

Deepak Tangri interview: Answers questions from fans

Chennaiyin FC’s 21-year-old defensive midfielder has been one of the few bright discoveries for the team so far this season. The product of Chandigarh Football Academy and also was a part of the India U-17 World Cup squad and the was a part of the development side, Indian Arrows and has been ever-present for the Marina Machans this campaign, even he got more after the injury of the key player, Anirudh Thapa. He is a perfect mixture of a combative midfielder and someone with an eye for a pass.

He has more than 80% passing accuracy and is someone who always wants the ball even in tight spaces.

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