Ready to shine: five young Indian footballers waiting

KOLKATA: Every season of Indian soccer highlights some young and exciting talents. This season of Indian Super League and the I-League was no different.

Here are five players for the future. Indian arrows coach Shanmugam Venkatesh and ATK FC assistant coach Sanjoy Sen talk about them

Jeakson Singh (Team: Kerala Blasters , Age: 18, Matches: 13)

Having scored against Colombia at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, this young man already has his name in the history books. He made a seamless transition from I-League to ISL and displayed great composure and temperament. He has the alertness and awareness of a defensive midfielder, the position he played this season, and he handles the pressure pretty well.

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“He has got good defensive attributes. Needs to work on his attacking ability,” said Sen. Venkatesh feels the exposure of playing in the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and in Indian arrows has helped him greatly.

Sumit Rathi (Team: ATK FC, Age: 18, Matches: 14)

This has been a revolutionary season for him. Rathi took the opportunity to play for the senior team with both hands and showed maturity beyond his years. Playing primarily to the left of a three-man baseline, and sometimes as a winger, Rathi impressed with his tackling, conscientious and passing ability. He was declared Emerging Player of the ISL League.

Venkatesh feels Rathi did justice to coach Antonio Lopez Habas’ confidence in him. Sen, who saw him from close quarters, said, “He is focussed, consistent and has great temperament. He is good in the air, athletic and strong. The most important thing is that you can depend on his defending abilities.”

Sk. Sahil (Team: Mohun Bagan, Age: 20, Matches: 14)

Chosen for the tests with Kibu Vicuña, Sahil impressed the Spanish in the preseason and made the cut for the first team. It was a revelation and improved noticeably as the season progressed. As a deep midfielder, he has fantastic anticipation, can break attacks and initiate moves quickly. Your reading of the situation and work ethic is on par with the best. For a player in his first season at the highest level, he kept his composure remarkably.

Sen reminded him that he doesn't commit too many fouls and Venkatesh predicted a bright future for him. I have followed their matches. He also played against us. Technically it is very solid.

Shubham Sarangi (Team: Odisha FC, Age: 19, Matches: 17)

He played a few games in the last ISL, but this was his true calling this season, making everyone notice it. He endorsed the position of right back in the team. His defensive decisions and judgments are commendable, overlap with the pace and deliver crosses with a purpose.

“He had a good season. He is a versatile player and credit goes to coach Josep Gombau for utilizing him well,” said Venkatesh.

Vikram Pratap Singh (Team: Indian arrows , Age: 18, Matches: 14)

The AIFF development team captain played in different positions in the midfield, mainly to the right, and also as a forward. He showed excellent ball control, skill, passing play and a nose for goals. He upset almost all defenses and also scored four goals, including on both legs against East Bengal.

“He has a great intensity, resistance, participation and hunger that is desired in a high-level team. His leadership quality is also appreciable. But he has a long way to go, Venkatesh said, adding that India's national coaches, including Igor Stimac, have kept a check on Sahil and Vikram.