Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, FC Goa's 22-year-old goalkeeper, has been named among 11 players selected by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who are set to 'stamp their mark on the game' in the new year.
Dheeraj is featuring as the first-choice goalkeeper for FC Goa for the second season running in the 2022/23 Indian Super League (ISL). He has registered four clean sheets so far, only behind ATK Mohun Bagan's Vishal Kaith, who has five.
"Having been within the India set up several times, the Manipur-born goalkeeper will be eyeing an international debut as one of his key objectives for 2023," the AFC website said about Dheeraj.
Dheeraj has played for India U17 and U23 so far. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 30, has been the senior team's goalkeeper during this time.
At the club level, the move to FC Goa has given an impetus to Dheeraj's career. He had stayed on the bench at ATK Mohun Bagan for two years before that.
Dheeraj had his brightest moment yet when FC Goa made their AFC Champions League debut in 2021/22, racking a group-stage best 26 saves. He was named in the AFC Champions League team of the season, the first Indian player to achieve this.
Some of the other Asian players picked out by AFC as those who might have breakthrough years in 2023 are Garang Kuol, the Australian who squandered a last-minute chance in the FIFA World Cup against Argentina to draw the score level at 2-2, and Zidane Iqbal, one of the most promising youngsters at Manchester United. Iqbal had made his UEFA Champions League debut, but will be looking to become the first Iraqi to play in the Premier League.