The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) kicked off on November 20 in Goa in the absence of fans. Like most of the leagues across Asia, all eyes are once again on the overseas players who set their foot in India after a glamorous career elsewhere.
However, the Indian players have been let down once again in the ISL. Allowing five foreign players on the pitch has seen a lot of regular national team players being reduced to bench-warmers.
Some of the players were left out due to genuine reasons. For instance, Mandar Rao Dessai exited the bio-bubble because of family issues. Sahal Abdul Samad, on the other hand, missed out on playing certain matches due to injury concerns.
In this article, we look at five Indian national team players who are match fit and raring to go but aren't getting enough playing time in the ISL.
#5 Udanta Singh - 254 Minutes (Bengaluru FC)
Udanta Singh has been an elemental part of India's national team with his blistering runs in the right wing. He has also developed a fantastic understanding with captain Sunil Chhetri that has worked wonders for the Indian national team on multiple occasions.
However, the 24-year-old has been relegated to the bench mostly this season. Bengaluru FC's head coach Carles Cuadrat has favored Cleiton Silva in the right flank. The Brazilian already has scored 3 goals and bagged one assist this season in seven matches.
Udanta has only one goal to his name and no assists in the seventh season of ISL. The Manipuri-born player has started only three matches and has been substituted on each occasion.
#4 Seiminlen Doungel - 230 Minutes (FC Goa)
Seiminlen Doungel's goal for India in the stoppage time against Afghanistan in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers ensured the match ended in a 1-1 draw. The 26-year-old came on as a substitute and scored a goal in just fourteen minutes.
Doungel usually plays in the wings, but Jorge Ortiz Mendoza and Alexander Romario Jesuraj have taken those spots. He hasn't registered a single assist or goal for FC Goa this season.
#3 Sarthak Golui - 181 Minutes (Mumbai City FC)
Sarthak Golui played for India against Oman in the away fixture of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The 23-year-old replaced Rahul Bheke in the second half to stop the opposition's marauding attacks.
Golui can play as a right-back and as a center-back but is not in the good books of ISL side Mumbai City FC's head coach, Sergio Lobera. Hernan Santana and Mourtada Fall are playing in the heart of the defense while former Kerala Blasters player Mohammad Rakip is the favored right-back.
#2 Farukh Choudhary - 159 Minutes (Mumbai City FC)
Farukh Choudhary shifted his base from Jamshedpur to Mumbai City FC in this season of ISL after a scintillating performance for his previous side. The 24-year-old usually plays in the left wing, but Bipin Singh has snatched that position from him.
Farukh had started the second half against Afghanistan for India, and also played the full match against Oman in their away fixture at the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
#1 Adil Khan - 17 Minutes (Hyderabad FC)
Since Igor Stimac took charge of the Indian national team, Adil Khan has slotted himself seamlessly at the center-back position. The 32-year-old played all five of India's FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches and helped the Blue Tigers keep a clean sheet against Qatar.
Adil also scored a last-gasp equalizer against Bangladesh to save India's blushes. However, he has just made one substitute appearance in this season of ISL for Hyderabad FC. Their head coach Manuel Marquez Roca has paired Chinglensana Singh and Odei Onaindia as the center-backs. Defensive midfield responsibilities, meanwhile, are being shouldered by Hitesh Sharma and Joao Victor.Published 27 Dec 2020, 18:43 IST