The 6th season of the Hero Indian Super League is just a few days away and the excitement seems to be building among the Indian footballing community. Fans of the various teams will want their side to lift the coveted ISL trophy as this season is building up to be the most competitive one in the league's six-year history.
The reason for this can be attributed to the fact that most teams have splashed the money on big-name foreign players like Asamoah Gyan, Roy Krishna and Bartholomew Ogbeche.
While the attention and spotlight will obviously be on them, Indian football fans will also keep a close tab on some of the budding Indian footballers. Apart from few of the youngsters from the Indian Arrows outfit who will be making their bow in the ISL for the first time, there are other talented U-23 players who have given rise to some positive expectations about India's future as a footballing nation in the last couple of years.
This season of the ISL provides yet another opportunity for such prodigies to further their development and become household names amongst the adoring Indian football fans. With the Igor Stimac-coached Indian national team also giving away a youthful look in the past couple of months, some good performances might very well fetch a national call-up or even help in the bid to move abroad just like how Rahul KP intends to do.
So, it would be an apt time for us to have a look at five U-23 players who could have a big five months in front of them.
Note: Players like Sahal Abdul Samad, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Anirudh Thapa and Ashique Kuruniyan weren't considered as they are known faces.
#5 Amarjit Singh - Jamshedpur FC
The former India U-17 captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam will kickstart this list of young Indian players to watch out for. The midfielder might just be 18 years old but his maturity and composure on the ball belie his tender age. After playing in the U-17 World Cup in 2017, Amarjit plied his trade for the Indian Arrows in the I-League through the last couple of seasons. The Manipuri-born youngster went onto score four goals in his 36 appearances for the Arrows.
His performances in central midfield were so impressive that he not only bagged a massive contract with Jamshedpur FC but also got a call-up to India's squad for the Kings Cup in June. National team coach Igor Stimac was quickly impressed by Amarjit's work-rate and ability to play possession-based football.
"I'm really impressed with how he looks on the pitch, and how mature he looks with respect to his age. The way he plays is something which gives us hope. He along with Raynier (Fernandes), completely changed the game against Curacao," Igor Stimac said after India's game against Curucao in the Kings Cup.
At Jamshedpur FC, Amarjit might have the opportunity to develop and expand his game under the tutelage of Antonio Irionda. Playing alongside an experienced campaigner like Memo would do a world of good to Amarjit.
Unfortunately, Amarjit wouldn't be able to start the season because as he is still recovering from a fractured hand that he suffered during a training session with the national team. A surgery to recuperate meant that he wouldn't be available from for at least the first four weeks of the ISL but once he makes his return to the field, Amarjit would be raring to make a mark at his new club.