There are a number of youngsters who have made a positive impression in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season. Playing alongside more established peers, they have not just held their own but also gone on to make the difference for their respective sides. On the occasion of National Youth Day, we take a look at eleven of them, one from each team, who embody the spirit of Swami Vivekananda in the way that they approach football.
Manvir Singh – ATK Mohun Bagan
Manvir has been one of Antonio Habas’ trusted generals this season. In the initial absence of David Williams, he came into the side and has now made one of the attacking positions his own. Having featured in all 10 matches so far, he is the only Indian goalscorer at the club, with a couple of goals and an assist against his name. What has been impressive about him this season is his willingness to run the channels as well as his defensive contribution at all times.
The last time we took the field, @manvir_singh07 slotted home his second of the season. Will he get on the scoresheet again? 🤔
— ATK Mohun Bagan FC (@atkmohunbaganfc) December 16, 2020
Suresh Wangjam – Bengaluru FC
In what has been an underwhelming campaign for the Blues so far, Suresh has been the only saving grace. The 20-year-old is a livewire on the pitch and if not for him, Bengaluru would have had no real mobility in midfield. With a passing accuracy of 72.08% across 745 minutes, he has been the only consistent performer for his side this term and is mature beyond his years, both with the ball and without it.
Deepak Tangri – Chennaiyin FC
21-year-old Deepak has been an absolute revelation for Chennaiyin this season. He is someone who has an immense understanding of the game at a very young age and is fearless when it comes to the physical side of the game. Having played as a defender all his life, the fact that he has established himself as a defensive midfielder for the two-time champions is such a short period of time speaks volumes about his ability.
Saviour Gama – FC Goa
Much has been said about the exceptional talent of Alexander Jesuraj who already has three assists this season. However, 23-year-old Saviour is another youngster at FC Goa who has caught the eye with his composure on the ball and surge of pace. He has notched two assists till now, and with 9 shots at goal to complement his 43 tackles and 12 blocks, he has been a bundle of energy at either end. His overlapping and underlapping runs beyond the left winger have often created genuinely dangerous situations for opponents and his recovery has also been excellent.
Saviour Gama unleashes one but Debjit once again palms it away 🧤
— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) January 6, 2021
Akash Mishra – Hyderabad FC
The best youngster in the league so far this season has to be this former Indian Arrows star. The 19-year-old has been incredible going forward and always seems to be involved in the attack. In fact, he often comes infield with the ball, opening up new passing angles which can wreak havoc in opposing defences. Wonderful on the ball, he has played every minute so far and was rightly rewarded with a cheeky assist against NorthEast United.
Mobashir Rahman – Jamshedpur FC
The 22-year-old Tata Football Academy product in all but one match so far. Paired alongside Alex Lia as the midfield pivot, he has been extremely reliable in ticking over possession and recycling the ball. Never very flashy, Mobashir is one of those players who is invariably the coach’s favourite because of the way he follows instructions and plays his role to the T. He also has a good shot from distance, something that will hopefully yield a goal soon enough.
Rahul KP – Kerala Blasters
The 20-year-old Malayali attacking midfielder is another ex-Indian Arrows player. Comfortable anywhere across the final third, he was brought into the playing eleven by Kibu Vicuna after their poor start to the campaign and immediately added some zest to the attack. Having bagged one goal so far, he works hard off the ball as well and has 39 tackles in just 484 minutes. However, his passing near the opposition box has to improve for him to become even more potent.
Bipin Singh – Mumbai City FC
Apart from Manvir, Bipin is the only other player in this list who is 25 but if the current season is any proof, one would feel that his best form is still ahead of him. He has been a tireless runner for the 699 minutes that he has been on the pitch and is one Mumbai City player who can stretch defences. It is this quality of his that has helped him take up positions from which he has accumulated a goal and three assists till now. Releasing the ball at just the right time is also something that he has hugely improved upon since the start of the campaign.
We're buzzing too, just like Bipin! 😌
— Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) January 6, 2021
Lalengmawia – NorthEast United
The impressive 20-year-old has also featured in every match for his team so far. He has a passing accuracy of 73% to complement the 40 tackles, 24 interceptions and 11 blocks that he has managed. A proper box-to-box midfielder, the Mizoram-born youngster has a penchant for popping up in dangerous positions. His ball-carrying also is exceptionally assured and he would be looking to add goals and assists to his game as the final hurdle.
Gaurav Bora – Odisha FC
Playing for a team like Odisha FC, Gaurav’s lion-hearted midfield displays have often gone unnoticed this term. The 22-year-old has played every minute for the Kalinga Warriors and his awareness is what has made him indispensable. When he was asked to play as a centre-back against Kerala Blasters, it was this awareness that helped him through it as he put on a flawless performance in his side’s first victory of the season. 43 tackles and 23 blocks also mean that he has all the ingredients of being a top central midfielder.
Ankit Mukherjee – SC East Bengal
Although Ankit has made just three appearances this season, he already feels like an integral part of everything good that SC East Bengal have done in the last few games. The 24-year-old has slotted in seamlessly at that right wing-back position and has been a constant avenue to launch attacks. Both Matti Steinmann and Bright Enobakhare seem to rely on him to switch play and he manages to reach their pass and make something of the ball every single time. How he dealt with Sunil Chhetri in their last game was also symbolic of how intelligent he is as a defender and how well he anticipates certain situations.