Ten Indian youngsters to watch out for in 2013
Sportskeeda looks ahead to the new year by listing ten youngsters who could make a huge impact in 2013.
Alwyn George (Club: Pailan Arrows; Age: 20; Position: Attacking Midfielder/Striker)
This TFA product from Nagpur had a memorable 2012, which was his first year at the highest level of Indian football. Right from his I-League debut against Dempo, Alwyn showed great potential as he is comfortable with the ball and has plenty of trickery to go past players. Although he is best playing behind the main striker, Alwyn is a good finisher as well and he proved that by scoring four goals at the U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers, where he was one of the players of the tournament. He is already on the fringes of the national team as he was part of the Nehru Cup 2012 squad, making a substitute appearance against Cameroon ‘B’ in the round-robin game and will surely be targeted by big clubs this summer.
Shouvik Ghosh (Club: Pailan Arrows; Age: 20; Position: Defender)
With the quality of having great positional sense and anticipation, this central defender has already shown maturity beyond his years so it’s no surprise to see him get the captaincy at Arrows. It was under current Arrow coach Arthur Papas that Shouvik really stepped up and performed admirably against some tough opposition at the U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers last year. Last season despite Arrows’ overall struggles, Shouvik was consistent and thus got a call-up to the Nehru Cup 2012 preparatory camp. His continued progress at Arrows saw him get a call-up for the Singapore friendly but missed out because of the personal tragedy of losing his mother. Had the game against Yemen not got postponed, Shouvik would have won his first senior cap by now. Having a left footed player in central defence will be a luxury for Wim Koevermans so he could become an important national team player in 2013 itself.
Romeo Fernandes (Club: Dempo; Age: 20; Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger)
Five-time Indian champions Dempo have a tradition of nurturing some of the best Indian talents and Romeo is the latest. The young Goan can operate on both flanks and use either feet and is a nightmare for fullbacks. After impressing for several age-group teams of Dempo, Romeo was loaned out to Margao SC, whom he helped to win promotion to the Goa Pro League. He tormented Churchill Brothers on his I-League debut in December 2011 and bagged an assist. Romeo impressed every time when he was used at the U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers by Papas including a goal against the UAE. Armando Colaco has used him sparingly in the I-League so far but he is already on the radar of Koevermans as he was a standby for the November friendly against Yemen.
Lalram Luaha Hmar (Club: Shillong Lajong; Age: 22; Position: Midfielder)
This Mizoram midfielder is a product of the renowned Tata Football Academy and played for the India U-20 side in the 2006 AFC Challenge Cup as a 16-year-old so it wasn’t a surprise to see him sign for Mohun Bagan at 18. But like the trend at most big clubs, Lalram Luaha was sparingly used at Mohun Bagan where he lost his confidence. However, the central mid-fielder now seems to be revitalized after joining Lajong in November 2011 as he is once again playing to his full potential. His goal in the opening round of this season’s I-League against his former club Mohun Bagan is a proof of his revival and we could hear more about such match winning displays in 2013.
Dawson Fernandes (Club: Sporting Clube de Goa; Age: 22; Position: Striker)
This talented forward was part of the Salgaocar squad during their 2010-11 title winning campaign but didn’t get much of a chance to play there. He moved to Sporting Clube de Goa the next season and was one of their best players, scoring six goals. Dawson is quick but also has a good build and is of course a clinical finisher. His goal scoring exploits nearly took Sporting Clube to the semi-finals of the Federation Cup this season as he scored thrice in as many games. Dawson hasn’t been as prolific in the I-League but much of it is down to the lack of service from his teammates as Sporting collectively have struggled this season. But Dawson’s talent has been carefully monitored by Koevermans and his coaching staff as he earned a deserving call-up as a standby for the friendly against Yemen which eventually got cancelled.
Pradeep Mohanraj (Club: Air India; Age: 22; Position: Defender/Midfielder)
The youngster from Kerala was part of the United Kerala squad that got relegated from I-League last season but wasn’t a regular there. He moved to Air India this campaign and hasn’t looked back ever since. Pradeep was one of Air India’s best players in their Durand Cup triumph as he scored in two matches and converted one of the penalties in the shootout win over Dodsal in the final. He produced some fine displays in the Federation Cup also and has been a regular for the Airmen in the I-League. Pradeep is a versatile player as he can operate both in defence and midfield and is known for his work rate and shooting. As a result, he was part of the preliminary squad for the Singapore friendly and standby for Yemen match. If he maintains his consistency, Pradeep could become a good utility player for the national team.
Bikramjit Singh (Club: Churchill Brothers; Age: 20; Position: Midfielder)
Like so many young Indian players in the I-League these days, Bikramjit came through the Arrows project as he spent two years at the AIFF’s developmental side before joining Churchill Brothers this summer. The former India youth international produced some solid displays for Arrows in 2011-12 and has been a regular at the heart of Churchill’s midfield alongside Lenny Rodrigues this season. Although his main job is to win back possession and break up the opposition’s attack, Bikramjit is equally good with the ball and scores important goals like his strike against Prayag United in the I-League. Bikramjit certainly has the potential to be an important player for club and country for years to come.
Milan Singh (Club: Pailan Arrows; Age: 20; Position: Midfielder)
Like Bikramjit, Milan is another youngster who has benefitted from AIFF’s Arrows project. Milan was part of the team in its first season in 2010-11, scoring against his parent club East Bengal. But it was in the 2011-12 season that Milan became a regular at Arrows. The India youth international seems to have improved further this term under Australian coach Papas, starting every game and scoring four goals. Milan has a wide range of passing and great stamina and thus has the attributes to become a quality midfielder for the national team. He was part of Nehru Cup 2012 preparatory camp and it can’t be long before he wins his first international cap.
Robin Gurung (Club: ONGC; Age: 20; Position: Defender)
This 20-year-old talented defender from Sikkim is in his third season with ONGC, having played the 2010-11 I-League as well. However, it is this season that this form has really caught the attention with some stellar displays against some of the top sides of the division. Robin was outstanding at center back against Odafa Okolie and company in his team’s goalless draw with Mohun Bagan and was man-of-the match in ONGC’s 3-1 upset win over Dempo. When ONGC lost 5-0 to East Bengal, former coach Subrata Bhattacharya had singled out the absence of Robin as one of the main reasons for their heavy loss. Robin is a tough tackler and strong in the air but because he is not the tallest, Bhattacharya believes playing as a fullback would increase Robin’s chances of doing well at international level.
Soram Poirei (Club: Pailan Arrows; Age: 20; Position: Goalkeeper)
The Manipur youngster joined Pailan Arrows this campaign after a brief spell with Shillong Lajong last season. According to Arrows goalkeeping coach Tanumoy Bose, Soram has all the qualities to be a good goalkeeper and has shown glimpses of his talent in the six matches that he has played in this season’s I-League. A fine performance against Dempo in the Federation Cup and the two clean sheets against his former club Lajong and United Sikkim have been his standout displays. The custodian made it to the squad for the U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers and could soon play for the senior team if he continues to work hard and improve his decision making.