The first edition of Indian Super League saw many young Indian talents set the field on fire with their brilliant performances. The likes of Romeo Fernandes (FC Goa) and Rehenesh TP (North East United) simply performed out of their skin and gave Indian Football a sneak-peak into the future of what lies ahead. Don’t be surprised if they once again hawk the limelight with another stellar season.With a sea of domestic talents available for this edition of ISL, teams did their homework and roped in quality youngsters, who had a great I-League season. Every single detail was studied and signings were done accordingly. It seems that young is the mantra in ISL this year with many old horses failing to secure contracts.With the start of the ISL hardly a shout away, SportsKeeda analyzes the top five Indian youngsters that might take the second edition of ISL by storm. Here is what they look like:
#1 Arminder Singh
Team: Atletico de Kolkata
The former Pune FC goalkeeper had a sublime season with the Red Lizards in I-League last year. It was this performance that got him a call for the India U-23 squad for Olympic Qualifiers. From his club to National team, he transferred his form with a brilliant show between the sticks for the men in blue.
The 22-year-old has all the credentials to be a top notch keeper and with the professional set up at Atletico de Kolkata things will only get better for him. It was the same reason Antonio Lopez Habas too picked him as his first domestic player in the draft.
His ability to pull off crucial saves in one-on-one situations has earned him a cult fanbase. The Punjab-based lad has been making steady progress and that can be seen in his career graph as it is heading upwards. Surely he is one of the keepers to be watched out for in this ISL season.
#2 Brandon Fernandes
The former India U-19 last year hogged a lot of limelight for all the right reasons lately. His trial stints with English clubs like Reading FC, Sunderland, Leicester City etc has made him a household name. After spending considerable time with South African academy ASD Cape Town, he then played for them in the SAFA league.
Last year playing for Sporting Clube de Goa, he had 9 appearances under his belt scored three goals in process. Known as a free-kick specialist, his dead ball skills are real asset for any club side. His pace too gives opponents a tough time in the park.
Going as per pre-season preparations of MCPC in Dubai, Brandon is expected to be an integral member of Nicolas Anelka’s scheme of things this year. A good showing in ISL will also mean he would get the big ticket for Indian National team.
#3 Bikash Jairu
He had a modest start to his career and has risen with the likes of Nirmal Chhetri, Sanju Pradhan etc from the Namchi Football Hostel in Sikkim. The youngster first started for ONGC and then played for Rangdajied United, Mumbai Tigers, Salgaocar and now East Bengal.
The nippy footed player has proved that he is one of the gifted wingers around. If he keeps performing the way he has been, one shouldn’t be surprised if he gets a call from National coach Stephen Constantine soon.
Although he missed most parts of the FC Pune City pre-season in Turkey due to his commitments with East Bengal, David Platt & Co were majorly impressed with whatever little they saw of him. A big match player as he is known is also capable of scoring crucial goals.
Watch out for him when he takes up the field for FCPC in their inaugural match against their state rivals Mumbai City FC in the Maharashtra derby.
#4 Siam Hanghal
One of most underrated players in Indian Football. Siam last year stole the show at Bengaluru FC with his blistering pace which often made opponent players look like rookies. His ability to dribble with quick pace is a rare quality which is hard to find among Indian players.
The 22-year-old would feel at home at North East United, as he looks to turn tables for the John Abraham backed side. The former Pailan Arrows players have age on his side and it would be this year that will decide where his career graph is heading.
Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood time and again has praised him for his match winning performances. This year he looks to replicate the same, this year in FCPC colours.
#5 Anas Edathodika
He is one of the best central defenders in Indian Football but sadly for unknown reasons he is yet to don national colours. His consistent performance over the seasons with likes of Mumbai FC followed by Pune FC has always been appreciated by pundits.
This year in ISL, very few teams will experiment to have an Indian central defender in the starting line-up with everyone possessing quality striking line-up. It would be interesting to see how he fits in Roberto Carlos scheme of things. But surely, he is certainly one of the best Indian players in the squad.
Even for Anas it would be another year to prove as a good season might open doors for him in the national team set-up. His aerial ball skills and strong tackling makes him one of the strongest defenders among the Indian contingent.
If common sense prevails and Delhi has to better their show from last year, Anas surely has to play a big part in this year’s ISL.