The top goalscorers of Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 are not Indian, but there has been a sharp rise in the performances of Indian players this season.
The premise of the ISL has always been to churn out players for the Indian national team, something that has been happening since the inception of the tournament in 2014. From Sandesh Jhingan to Lallianzuala Chhangte, the league has thrown up quite a few quality players.
Anirudh Thapa scored the first Indian goal of the 2020/21 ISL and he was soon followed by Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh, and several others. Goalkeeping has improved drastically in comparison with previous seasons. Given the fact that there aren't any overseas goalkeepers in the ISL, the sight is extremely encouraging. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Amrinder Singh have been at their best while Gurmeet Singh and Albino Gomes have also been playing their hearts out.
With a little over a third of the season completed, the Indian performances can only get better. Let's take a look at five Indian players who have come to the fore this season.
#1 Manvir Singh - ATK Mohun Bagan
The former FC Goa striker has been a shining light for ATK Mohun Bagan this season. The 25-year-old arrived on a transfer to the Mariners from FC Goa, where he had flourished under the management of Sergio Lobera. Manvir's pace has been the standout feature of his gameplay, and he has two goals to show for it.
Manvir's work-rate has also been commended by one and all. The 1-0 win over Bengaluru FC saw Manvir put in the hard yards as he gave Rahul Bheke a run for his money.
#2 Suresh Singh Wangjam - Bengaluru FC
Generally slotted into a midfield-three alongside Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu, young Suresh Singh Wangjam is the livewire of the Bengaluru FC midfield. The 20-year-old shows up in different parts of the pitch, irrespective of attack or defense. His work-rate is tremendous and he takes up attacking positions often to help his side score goals.
Suresh was an important part of the India U17 squad that played in the FIFA U17 World Cup hosted by India. He hasn't made his debut for India yet, but it seems to be only a matter of time before he gets called up to the national team.
#3 Lalengmawia - NorthEast United FC
Lalengmawia or Apuia, as he is fondly called, has been the revelation of the season so far. Having signed for NorthEast United FC last season, the 20-year-old has now become an integral member of the side managed by Gerard Nus. Such has been his importance in the squad that he was handed the captain's armband in the absence of Federico Gallego.
This eventually saw Apuia become the youngest-ever player to captain an ISL match at 20 years and 44 days. He put in a solid performance in the same match against FC Goa that resulted in a 1-1 draw. His superb display also witnessed him claiming the Hero of the Match award that day.
#4 Liston Colaco - Hyderabad FC
Hyderabad FC have been one of the most consistent teams this season. Of course, Manolo Marquez has been instrumental in their turnaround. But the way some of their younger players have stepped up, has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Liston Colaco has had a major role to play in the renaissance of Hyderabad FC in this season's ISL. Playing on either the right or the left-wing, Liston has been an important part of the Hyderabad FC attack along with Mohammad Yasir and Aridane Santana. Needless to say, the 22-year-old will be expected to continue his form as two-thirds of the ISL season remains to be played.
#5 Bipin Singh - Mumbai City FC
One name that remains constant in the Mumbai City FC starting XI is Bipin Singh. The 25-year-old joined the Islanders at the start of the 2018 season and has almost always featured in the starting XI. The current ISL season has witnessed Bipin playing a much more attacking role than he did last season, something that has clearly brought out the best in him.
Although he has not been handed a Hero of the Match award so far this season, Bipin's presence has been felt. He has made three assists for the Islanders and is tied for the second position with Alexander Jesuraj and Jackichand Singh in the ISL 2020/21.Published 23 Dec 2020, 23:35 IST