From Anwar Ali to Prabhsukhan Gill: The best young Indian players from Durand Cup 2023
There were quite a few Indian talents that made the most of their opportunities and rose to the occasion in the Durand Cup 2023. With that, we take a look at a few Indian talents who caught our eye.
The 131st edition of the Durand Cup concluded on Sunday as ten-man Mohun Bagan Super Giant got the better of East Bengal FC in a nail-biting encounter in Kolkata to clinch their 17th title. By doing so, Mohun Bagan SG also confirmed their place as the most successful team in the competition’s history, bettering East Bengal FC’s tally of 16 Durand Cup titles.
As many as six Indian Super League (ISL) clubs - East Bengal FC, Mumbai City FC, FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC, NorthEast United FC and Mohun Bagan SG - made it to the knockout stages of the competition. East Bengal FC, NorthEast United FC, FC Goa and Mohun Bagan SG were among the teams that made it to the last four.
While foreign players made a mark for their respective teams, there were quite a few Indian talents that made the most of their opportunities and rose to the occasion. With that, we take a look at a few Indian talents who caught our eye.
New signing Ali was one of the best defenders in the tournament. His performances went a long way in helping the Mariners win the Durand Cup crown after 23 long years.
Barring the opening game against Bangladesh Army FT, the 22-year-old featured in all of Mohun Bagan SG’s matches. Ali was also on the scoresheet in Mohun Bagan SG’s quarter-final victory against Mumbai City FC and played a big part in helping his side record a clean sheet in the Kolkata Derby final.
🏆🏆Champions 🏆🏆— anwarali04 (@anwarali04) September 3, 2023
Joy Mohan Bagan
💥 Great start Of season with bang 💥
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I-League side Mohammedan SC narrowly missed out a place in the quarter-finals as one of the second-best teams despite acquiring the same number of points as Mohun Bagan SG from the group stage. However, young forward David Lalhlansanga displayed his attacking prowess by winning the Golden Boot award.
Lalhlansanga found the back of the net in all of Mohammedan SC's group stage matches and tallied seven goal contributions in three games. He opened his account against Mumbai City FC and was on strike in his side's win over Indian Navy Football Team. The 21-year-old was unstoppable in their final group game, scoring four goals in Mohammedan SC's 6-0 rout of Jamshedpur FC. The Golden Boot award will give a young Indian striker like Lalhlansanga plenty of confidence heading into the upcoming season.
Gogoi was guilty of missing his spot kick in the semi-final penalty shootout against East Bengal FC, which proved costly for NorthEast United FC. However, the 20-year-old had a campaign to remember. Gogoi finished as the second highest goal getter in the tournament behind Mohammedan SC’s David Lalhlansanga, who scooped the Golden Boot award.
Gogoi netted four goals in as many games, which included a brilliant hat-trick that he scored in NorthEast United FC’s opening game against Shillong Lajong FC. After a breakthrough campaign in the 2022-23 season,the Assam-born midfielder carried on from where he left.
Yumnam impressed for Chennaiyin FC at centre-back with his composure on the ball and excellent reading of the game. The 19-year-old was handed a start by Chennaiyin FC head coach Owen Coyle in all their games. Yumnam was solid at the back as Chennaiyin FC shipped three goals in their four matches.
He even scored a header against FC Goa in their quarter-final fixture, displaying his threat from set-pieces. It would be safe to assume that Yumnan has done more than enough to stake a claim in Chennaiyin FC’s playing eleven for the upcoming ISL season. He will also be involved in national duties soon after being included in India’s U-23 AFC Cup 2023 squad.
East Bengal FC’s journey to the final would not have been possible without the solid performances of Gill between the sticks. Signed from Kerala Blasters FC in the summer transfer window, East Bengal FC head coach Cuadrat placed his trust in Gill, playing him ahead of experienced Kamaljit Singh.
The Ludhiana-born keeper repaid Cuadrat’s faith with some mature displays in goal. In the group stage match against Mohun Bagan SG, Gill displayed what he was capable of, with a string of terrific saves. That win played a crucial part in East Bengal FC’s qualification to the knockout stages and the keeper continued his fine performances from there on.
He may have slipped under the radar after no goal contributions during the tournament, but Apuia was a highly influential figure for Mumbai City FC in the middle of the park. The 22-year-old featured in all of his team’s four matches and was crucial for the Islanders with his passing, distribution and tackling abilities.
Mumbai City FC’s campaign came to a close in the quarter-finals, but were among the most dominant teams in the competition. Des Buckingham’s side netted 13 goals across four games, besides keeping two clean sheets. And Apuia was one of the key cogs in the wheel, offering a mix of creativity and steel.
Notable mentions: Mahesh Naorem, Bekey Oram, Akash Mishra, Ayush Adhikari, Mohamed Aimen, Robin Yadav.