2018 SAFF Championship: 4 players who will be crucial to Team India's success
The twelfth edition of South Asia's premier football tournament - the 2018 SAFF Championship will run from September 4-15 at the Bangabandhu stadium, Dhaka. Seven team including the hosts Bangladesh will be vying for South Asian glory which was last won by Team India in January 2016.
The seven-time winners, India, will once again start as the tournament favourites as the form and history favour them. They are clubbed alongside former champions, Sri Lanka and Maldives in Group B and will begin their campaign on September 5.
The Indian team comprises of Under 23 players and even several stars who played the 2017 FIFA Under 17 World Cup. It will be interesting to see how these youngsters make use of this golden opportunity to impress coach Stephen Constantine in the absence of several top players. It will be a great learning curve and a 'dream come true' moment for many of these players when they don the famous Blue jersey to conquer South Asia.
Here are 4 players who will be crucial to Team India's success
1) Lallianzuala Chhangte
Chhangte rose to prominence during the 2015 SAFF Championship held at the Greenfield stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. The Mizoram lad made his Team India debut against Sri Lanka in that tournament, which the Blue Tigers won eventually. Chhangte was impressive in his second International game against Nepal, scoring two astonishing goals in India's 4-1 win over their neighbours and thereby becoming the nation's third youngest goal-scorer (18 years 140 days). The 21-year-old has so far represented India in four matches, with two goals to his name.
An impressive midfielder, Chhangte has played for two Indian Super League clubs - the NorthEast United and Delhi Dynamos apart from his stint with the DSK Shivajians. He had a decent run with the Delhi Dynamos in the 2017-18 ISL, netting three goals, providing three assists and possessing a pass percentage of 57.58.
Hailed as the next big thing in Indian Football, the winger has excellent dribbling skills, first touch and free-flowing style of play. Chhangte's presence in the midfield will undoubtedly be the key for Team India's success at the SAFF Championship.