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Five U-23 players to watch out for in the 2019/20 ISL season

Karthik Raj
Modified 14 Oct 2019, 09:56 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

#4 Anwar Ali (Jr.) - Mumbai City FC

Anwar Ali, one of the most highly-rated centre-backs in the country
Anwar Ali, one of the most highly-rated centre-backs in the country

For long, India have had a severe lack of depth in the defensive department and this was only explicitly exposed when Indian coach Igor Stimac had to ask Anas Edathodika to reconsider his retirement from international football. This is where Anwar Ali's constant development as a player becomes vital.

Additionally, he is also employed on the left side of the central defence which is another role within the role that has been found scarce positive results when it comes to Indian players.

One of the rare prospects for India in central defence, there have been a lot of expectations from Anwar Ali ever since his days with the India U-17 team. Anwar has also been called up for the Indian senior team's preliminary squads on quite a few occasions in the past few months and that reflects his undoubted potential. With a good physique and build for his age, the 19-year old has all the attributes of becoming a top-class defender for not just Mumbai City FC but also the national team.

Apart from being a strong defender, the Punjab-born player can also be useful in the opposition box during set-pieces. Further, he is also more than capable of taking set-pieces and this ability of his was especially seen while scoring a stunning free-kick to defeat Argentina U-20 in the COTIF Cup last year.

However, on an overall basis, Anwar Ali had a mixed 2018-19 season while playing for the Indian Arrows and he would know that such inconsistency would be detrimental while playing in the ISL as teams tend to really be defensive when it comes to employing young players in their team, especially in a crucial department like central defence.

It says something that most ISL clubs have almost always played two foreigners in central defence and this means that Anwar Ali has to be on his toes all the time. All said and done, even in Lucian Goian's absence, the Minerva Punjab-youth product would be aware that a spot in Mumbai City FC's starting 11 might not be available right from the beginning as he would have to battle out for a spot with players like Sarthak Golui and Pratik Choudhari in order to partner Mato Grgic. This level of competition might just bring out the best in him if he gets a chance to prove himself.

Published 12 Oct 2019, 00:39 IST
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