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ISL 2017: Top 10 Indian youngsters to watch out for this season

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Keeper Albino Gomes will be one of the youngsters to watch out for

The fourth edition of the Indian Super League is just around the corner and promises to be the biggest and probably the best edition so far.

With 10 teams taking part this year in the ISL 2017 and a change in player rules, it means that this season, we will be able to see more matches and more Indian talent on display. The last three seasons have seen a minimum of five Indian players required in the playing eleven, but this time, This time though we will not be able to see more than five foreign players in the starting eleven which means every team must have a minimum of six Indian players on the pitch, at any time during the game.

Even with a galaxy of stars descending upon the ISL, the Indian players have had a big role to play in each and every edition so far -- be it Md. Rafique’s last-minute header in the final of the inaugural edition or Jeje’s heroics during the second season to see Chennai become ISL champions. The contribution made by Indian players has been a big factor for each and every team.

In this article, we take a look at the top 10 Indian youngsters on display, with one player selected from each team, to watch out for during this edition of the ISL. A thing to note -- players who have already made a senior India Team appearance or are above 23 years of age have not been included in this list.


#1 Albino Gomes (Delhi Dynamos)

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Albino Gomes

The Goa-born shot-stopper has been a recent revelation for Indian football as former Mumbai City goalkeeper has been exceptional during the last one year. His heroic performances had a big role in ensuring that Aizawl became I-League champions for the first time in what was a fairytale finish to the league for the team from Mizoram.

At the center of everything for Aizawl FC was Albino Gomes, starting 18 games for the Mizo side and making some crucial saves during games as he ensured that the defensive fortress of Aizawl stood tall.

Expect Albino to play a big part for the Dynamos this season as they will be aiming for the title.

Also read: ISL 2017: Top 5 players likely to win the Golden Glove this season

#2 Vishal Kaith (FC Pune City)

Enter caption
Vishal Kaith

One of the players retained by FC Pune City is Himachal Pradesh-born goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, who has been rock solid for Shillong Lajong in the past few seasons, amassing a vast number of Man of the Match awards in crucial ties against bigwigs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

Kaith ensured that Lajong could go about and play their usual brand of attacking football and not having to worry about leaking in goals against much better opponents.

The 21-year-old goalkeeper is a former AIFF Academy graduate. He is highly rated in the Indian football circuit and is good with his feet too, a trait that is seldom found with Indian keepers. Known for his shot-stopping abilities and commanding presence at the back, Kaith should be a force to reckon with for Pune City.

#3 Pranjal Bhumij (Mumbai City FC)

This diminutive pocket-sized dynamite from Assam has been making all the right noises in the Indian youth circuit. A DSK-Liverpool academy graduate, Pranjal first caught eyeballs during the U-18 I-League with a prolific goal scoring streak.

He later went on to make an appearance for DSK in the senior I-League and also scored a goal against Shillong Lajong, making him one of the youngest to do so.

The striker's versatility is one thing to look out for as he can play on both flanks and even as an attacking midfielder. Rated very highly by Dave Rogers, the DSK coach, this youngster also impressed current national team coach Stephen Constantine.

#4 Chinglensana Singh Konsham (FC Goa)

Sana Singh (white)
Sana Singh (white)

Chinglensana Singh Konsham, or better known as Sana Singh, is a 20-year-old Manipuri defender, who has already caught the eye of everyone following Indian football closely. Standing at 6'1", this former Delhi Dynamos defender is a towering presence at the back and his well-built physique makes it hard for strikers to get past him easily.

Such is this young Manipuri's quality that he made Romanian defender Dan Gelu Ignat sit on the bench for most of the I-League season for Lajong. Known for his clean tackles, interceptions and anticipation of the game, Sana is one of those players who is bound to make his senior team debut soon. He can also play as a fullback and was used as a right-back often by Gianluca Zambrotta for the Delhi Dynamos last season.

Also read: ISL 2017: 5 best midfielders to watch out for

#5 Malsawmzuala (Bengaluru FC)

Malsawmzuala

One of the two U23 players retained by Bengaluru FC before the ISL draft, this Mizo midfielder is a child prodigy of sorts. Highly rated by former Bengaluru FC and present ATK technical director Ashley Westwood, Malsawmzuala is one of those rare quality registas i.e. deep-lying playmakers, present in Indian Football.

Having played for Delhi Dynamos in the ISL last season and also getting his name on the scoresheet for the team from the capital, this former Chanmari FC youth player is no stranger to the ISL. Expect him to light up the stage with his fine touches and passes whenever he is on the pitch!

#6 Lalruatthara (Kerala Blasters)

Lalruatthara

An I-League winner with Aizawl FC last season, this Mizo centre-back is quite highly rated. Having already got a national team camp call-up, he is already on the national team radar. He also represented India in the recent AFC U23 Qualifiers in Qatar and impressed national team coach Stephen Constantine.

He is known for his no-nonsense approach and could be an ideal partner for Sandesh Jhingan, if given the opportunity. He is also one of those centre backs who like venturing forward and getting their names on the scoresheet. Having a centre back like Lalruatthara adds to the depth of the Kerala Blasters squad.

#7 Bodo Baoringdao Jr. (Chennaiyin FC)

Bodo Baoringdao Jr.
Bodo Baoringdao Jr.

This 18-year-old striker from Assam has been making waves in the Indian football circuit. He was part of the five-member team to be sent to FC Metz in France for a training stint. Known for his clever runs and his combination of speed and skill, this young AIFF Academy Graduate is highly rated by former Chennaiyin FC coach Marco Materazzi.

He is one of the few players who has been playing an important role in all age group national teams and it is only a matter of time before he breaks into the senior team. Last season, he was excellent for Minerva Punjab in the I-League, where he went on to amass 10 caps and scored a beautiful goal too.

He is also the youngest goalscorers in I-League history and even his ISL teammate Jeje went on to mention that he is one of the stars of tomorrow. A fun fact about him is that during the ISL 2016 edition, Bodo became the youngest player to be contracted by an ISL Franchise.

Also read: ISL 2017: Top 5 players likely to win the Golden Boot this season

#8 Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Jamshedpur FC)

Jerry Mawihmingthanga

Jerry Mawihmingthanga is one of those players who is sure to be billed as one of the next big things in Indian Football. He, along with his DSK academy teammate Lalianzuala Changte, had a training stint with EPL side Liverpool in March 2016, following which both the players were called up for the national team camp but only Lalianzuala could manage a senior cap. Jerry, though, will have to wait a bit longer for his national team debut.

A typical central midfielder, Jerry is versatile and can play as an attacking midfielder or on the wings if required. A regular in the I-League for DSK Shivajains, Jerry managed to get his name on the scoresheet twice last season and was one of the standout performers for DSK, which also earned him praise from erstwhile East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan.

He is also a regular for the India U23 and has scored for them during the last one year. He also played for North East United FC last season and is no stranger to the ISL.

#9 Rupert Nongrum (ATK)

 Rupert Nongrum
Rupert Nongrum

This right winger from Meghalaya was first spotted during the Subroto Cup and was selected by Shillong Lajong for their underage squads. After a series of impressive performances there, he was promoted to the reserve side and again after showcasing his skills during Shillong Premier League, was promoted to the main team and is one of those players who has come through the ranks of Lajong.

He made his I-League debut against Bengaluru FC in the 2015 edition and has impressed Indian football pundits since then. Mainly a right winger, Rupert also has experience of playing as a central midfielder or as a right back and it would be interesting to see how Ashley Westwood and Teddy Sheringham use him. Known for his sudden burst of speed, this Malki-born winger could be a menace for opposition defences.

#10 Len Doungel (North East United FC)

Len Doungel
Len Doungel

Len is no stranger to the ISL and the big leagues. Having started his career at East Bengal, he was thought to be the next Bhaichung Bhutia by some of the club faithful. A move to Bengaluru FC saw him add another dimension to his game as he got fitter and started playing as a winger too.This 23-year-old Manipuri striker is highly-rated by ex-East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan and also former AIFF Technical Director Scott O'Donnell.

Know for his lightning quick speed and dribbling abilities, Len is a lethal striker and is very good in the air too. Having played at some big clubs and in big tournaments, Len would surely like to use his experience in what is like a homecoming season for him, as he played the first season of ISL for NEUFC and also scored his first ISL goal for them too. With six Indian players required in the starting lineup, expect Len to be one of the starters for NEUFC regularly.

Special Mention - Abdul Hakku (North East United FC)

Do look out for this tall lanky defender from Kerala, as he has been impressive for NEUFC during the preseason and is expected to be a first team regular this season. Rated very highly by coaches and teammates, this DSK academy graduate started making his mark for Fateh Hyderabad FC in the I-League 2nd division.

Also read: ISL 2017: Where are Atletico De Kolkata's Season 1 winning stars now?

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Edited by Shraishth Jain
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