Since its inception, the main aim of the Indian Super League (ISL) has been to find out young Indian players who would go on to serve the Indian football team. With the league giving us Sandesh Jhingan, Anirudh Thapa, and Sahal Abdul Samad, it is safe to assume that the ISL has lived up to the expectations.
The current season of the ISL has witnessed several clubs recruiting youth talent from the I-League. The likes of Liston Colaco, Asish Rai, and Suresh Singh Wangjam have cemented their places in the starting XI of their respective clubs.
In addition to recruitment, there has been a sharp increase in the number of first-team opportunities being presented to players below the age of 22. Let's take a look at three youngsters who have impressed many this season.
#1 Lalengmawia (NorthEast United FC)
Lalengmawia or Apuia has been right at the heart of a new beginning for NorthEast United FC. He became the youngest-ever ISL player to lead a team when he was handed the captain's armband by Gerard Nus at 20 years and 44 days. In addition to this, the youngster has partnered well in the central midfield with Khassa Camara.
Apuia is a proven box-to-box midfielder and has shown the same with a very high work-rate in the handful of games he has played so far. He already has a 74 percent passing accuracy and an impressive 34 tackles to his name this ISL season.
#2 Suresh Singh Wangjam (Bengaluru FC)
Ever since he broke into the Bengaluru FC starting XI last season, Suresh Singh Wangjam has been a revelation. The current season has witnessed Wangjam slot into a midfield-three role alongside Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu. He has proved to be highly effective in that role.
The youngster has been noted for his tremendous work-rate. It is this ability that makes him one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the ISL this season. At 20, Wangjam has a bright career ahead of him and is clearly the future of Bengaluru FC along with Ashique Kuruniyan.
#3 Akash Mishra (Hyderabad FC)
19-year-old Akash Mishra is one among very few players who can slot into any of the four positions in defence. Having impressed in the I-League with the Indian Arrows in the last two seasons, Mishra was snapped up by Manolo Marquez's Hyderabad FC. He became an instant success as a left full-back.
The youngster has been noted for his ability to whip in a good cross from the left flank. A few of his crosses have managed to find Aridane Santana in the box. With Manolo Marquez inclined to give more opportunities to youngsters, Akash Mishra will have an important part to play for Hyderabad FC in the months to come.Published 28 Dec 2020, 14:41 IST