While the ISL transfer headlines were dominated by popular footballing names coming at the back of multi-crore deals, clubs like Odisha FC, Jamshedpur FC and others have also kept an eye on having promising Indian talents in the side.
The Indian Super League has thrown up some sensational talents over the years in the form of Sahal Abdul Samad, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Ashique Kuruniyan, Farukh Choudhary and more, most of whom form the core of Igor Stimac’s Indian team today.
Let’s take a look at some of the top Indian talents who could break the ceiling this season.
SANDIP MANDI | JAMSHEDPUR FC
The new era of Indian football has seen the emergence of defenders like Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose, Pritam Kotal, and others who are not only technically sound but physically imposing as well. Jamshedpur’s Sandip Mandi is one such enforcer who could further deepen India’s defensive reserve with his strength. At 18, Mandi is very well-built and has already secured three appearances for Jamshedpur FC. Coming up the ranks of Tata Football Academy, Sandip Mandi won the best defender award at the 2019 Vedanta Cup tournament, playing for TFA. The left-footed defender can play as a full-back as well and is expected to flourish under new manager Owen Coyle.
MAKAN CHOTE | FC GOA
FC Goa boasts of one of the best scouting systems in ISL, which has given some amazing talents to the national team in the form of Brandon Fernandes, Mandar Rao Desai, Pronay Halder and more. Young winger Makan Chote could well be counted amongst them after this season if the 20-year-old manages to get the right chances. The Minerva Punjab academy product has come to ISL after an impressive I-League season, where he scored two goals and provided an assist. Despite his young age, Chote has represented Punjab in the AFC Cup and has the experience to handle nerves on ISL’s big stage.
SAHIL SHEIKH | ATK MOHUN BAGAN
ATK Mohun Bagan are counted amongst the bigger spenders in the Indian Super League who plan to contend for the title with their summer imports – which usually include big names. Hence, when the management decided to offer 20-year-old Indian midfielder Sahil Sheikh a three-year deal, it did raise some eyebrows. The Mohun Bagan academy product was an integral part of Kibu Vicuna’s I-League winning side last season and although he will be below in the pecking order in Antonio Habas’ midfield – that has Javier Hernandez, Edu Garcia, Pronay Halder, Carl McHugh and more – the club is aware of Sahil ‘s talents in the middle of the park and will be looking to enhance his skills under more exposure and guidance.
PRABHSUKHAN SINGH GILL | KERALA BLASTERS
Bought from former ISL winners Bengaluru FC, young goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill is not an unknown name to the Indian football fans. BFC had roped in Gill and Suresh Wangjam from Indian Arrows last year and the promising shot-stopper managed to play some crucial matches for the Blues before Kerala Blasters came calling. Known to nurture young talents, as evident from his Mohun Bagan days, Kibu Vicuna is the best mentor for 19-year-old Gill. Fortunately for Gill, Kerala Blasters’ other goalkeepers – Albino Gomes, Bilal Husain Khan, and Muheet Khan – isn’t that established. Hence, Gill would fancy a few chances sometime later in the season.
HENDRY ANTONAY | ODISHA FC
After replacing Delhi Dynamos in the ISL last year, Odisha FC are pretty much changing the philosophy of the management as well. One of their biggest priorities now has been to provide chances to the upcoming Indian talents, and 20-year-old Hendry Antonay could benefit heavily from it. Being a part of India’s U-17 FIFA World Cup squad, Antonay was handed an early chance in ISL by Chennaiyin FC but the full-back failed. However, he has shown determination to make his way back to top-tier football through Indian Arrows and the Dani Alves fan hopes to make an impression in the ISL this time.
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