2012 Indian Football Year In Review: Best Young Indian Player
2012 was a very eventful year for Indian football as there were plenty of ups and downs. Starting today until 31st December, Sportskeeda will be reviewing the year by looking back at individual and team achievements, controversies, the big news stories etc.
We start off the series by paying tribute to three of the best young Indian players of 2012 and also choosing who we feel was the very best.
Alwyn George (Age: 20; Club(s) in 2012: Pailan Arrows)
A product of the Tata Football Academy (TFA), Alwyn signed for Pailan Arrows in February and impressed in his I-League debut against Dempo. He was instrumental in Arrows’ much improved display in the second half of the 2011-12 I-League. Alwyn, who is best used as an attacking midfielder, turned his potential into performance for India U-22 at the 2013 U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers. He was India’s top scorer with four goals and one of the best players of the tournament. Alwyn was included in the Nehru Cup squad and came on to make a substitute appearance against Cameroon ‘B’ in a round robin game. He carried on his fine form for club Pailan Arrows also and has been an important player in their encouraging start in this season’s I-League. Alwyn can only get better in 2013.
Manandeep Singh (Age: 20; Club(s) in 2012: Air India, East Bengal)
The young striker’s performances towards the end of 2011 caught the attention of then-national coach Savio Medeira, who included Manandeep in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup preparatory camp. The former Arrows youngster made his international debut against Oman and although he failed to make the final Challenge Cup squad, Manandeep continued to impress in the I-League as his goals, including a brace against Mohun Bagan, helped his club Air India avoid relegation with ease. That earned him a big money move to East Bengal, but before playing for his new club, Manandeep played well for the India U-22s and was part of the senior team’s Nehru Cup winning squad. He scored on his East Bengal debut against Army XI and netted four times to inspire the Kolkata club to Federation Cup success. Manandeep undoubtedly was the best Indian striker of 2012.
Lalrindika Ralte (Age: 20; Club(s) in 2012: Churchill Brothers, East Bengal)
Lalrindika scored six goals for Churchill Brothers in I-League 2011-12 and four of them came in 2012 which helped the Goan club secure third place and qualification to AFC Cup 2013. The left footed player, who can operate on both flanks, is already an India international but missed out from the Nehru Cup squad due to injury. He however featured for the India U-22s and scored once in their qualifying campaign. At East Bengal, Trevor Morgan has mostly used Lalrindika as a substitute but the former Arrows youngster has turned out to be a super sub. He came off the bench to score the winner against his former club Churchill in the Federation Cup semi-final and was the catalyst in East Bengal’s win after extra time against Dempo in the final. He has already netted twice in this season’s I-League and is certainly one of the best goal-scoring wide midfielders in the country.
Winner: Manandeep Singh
The Punjabi lad edges out the other two 20-year-olds for being a bit more consistent and considering the impact of some of his contributions. The 2012 FPAI Young Player of the Year built a reputation at Air India for scoring against the top sides and he has continued that at East Bengal also, by scoring against Dempo in the Federation Cup final and Churchill Brothers in the I-League. Even when he is not scoring, Manandeep contributes by working hard and creating chances for his teammates. He will be an important player for both club and country in 2013.