Five youngsters to watch out for at the Hero Intercontinental Cup
The 2017-18 season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) saw of a host of young players light up the stage with dazzling performances, giving us a glimpse of a new dawn in Indian football. With the inaugural Hero Intercontinental Cup around the corner, Indian national team’s head coach Stephen Constantine took note of these impressive displays and rewarded the youngsters with a spot in the 30-man squad. Here we take a look at some of the brightest talents who could make a mark for the Blue Tigers in the tournament.
Subhasish Bose was a revelation for Bengaluru FC during the 2017-2018 season. Joining the club in 2017 from Hero I-League side Mohun Bagan, the 22-year-old left back went on to play a total of 18 games for Albert Roca’s side during their run to the final of the Hero ISL. Bose was also an integral part of the Blues side which went on to clinch the inaugural Hero Super Cup in April.
Known for his versatile displays at the back, Bose is a solid addition to Constantine’s backline. Having never represented his nation before on the international stage, Bose will be raring to go and hoping to replicate a sturdy display at the back in the Hero Intercontinental Cup.
While Kerala Blasters FC did not enjoy the best of seasons in 2017-2018, Lalruatthara was a formidable force at the back. The Mizoram-based defender was one of the most consistent performers throughout the campaign, with his displays earning him the ‘Emerging Player of the League’ award. Lalruatthara made a total of 17 appearances throughout the season, completing a total of 85 tackles in the process.
Lalruatthara made his presence felt with a rock-solid display in the @KeralaBlasters defence throughout the season.— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) March 18, 2018
He was presented the ISL Emerging Player of the League Award by Mrs. Nita Ambani.#LetsFootball #HeroISL pic.twitter.com/5amhFXbdcz
The 23-year-old has pace and power in his arsenal, combined with the ability to surge forward in attack when needed. Lalruatthara put in an impressive performance in India’s AFC Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan earlier this year and will be hoping for more of the same during the Hero Intercontinental Cup.
One of the biggest revelations of the 2017-2018 Hero ISL season, Anirudh Thapa deservedly finds himself in the squad for the tournament. The 20-year old was a pivotal figure for the Chennaiyin FC side which would go on to win the title. Thapa made a total of 20 appearances for the Marina Machans, coming up with some vital goals at important phases of the season.
The young attacker is blessed with abundant pace and skill, and can leave opposition defenders in their wake. If given the chance, the Chennaiyin midfielder will be hoping to impress, as he tries to stake his claim for a spot in the Indian squad for the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
At just 20 years of age, Ashique Kuruniyan is widely tipped to be the next star of Indian football. The Kerala-based youth prodigy had a memorable debut campaign in Hero ISL for FC Pune City, making a total of nine appearances. His performances for the Stallions left Constantine with no choice but to pick him for the national squad.
The 20-year old midfielder is blessed with pace and trickery and will be hoping to make it count during his debut tournament with the national team.
Vishal Kaith’s fine performances under the sticks for FC Pune City earned him a call-up to the national squad. The young custodian had a fruitful outing in Hero ISL 2017-18, making a total of 17 appearances while picking up seven clean sheets (the highest in the season) and amassing 45 saves in Pune’s most successful season till date.
Given the obvious quality that he possesses, Kaith is one for the future and more than an able backup option for Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. He is yet to earn his first cap for India and the Hero Intercontinental Cup could be the perfect stage for him to impress Constantine.