Indian newcomers who can light up Hero ISL 2019-20
With the sixth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) set to kick off on October 20, the 10 competing clubs have made some important signings to help them win the coveted trophy. While there will be considerable focus on many of the big new foreign signings, fans will also be keeping a close eye on the new and young Indian recruits, who will be keen on making their presence felt in their first-ever Hero ISL.
The previous editions have seen some gems emerge from the lot, like Sandesh Jhingan, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Michael Soosairaj and others. With the 2019-20 campaign under a month away, here’s a look at some of the Hero ISL freshers who could make a big splash in the upcoming season.
Amarjit Singh Kiyam (Jamshedpur FC)
The 18-year-old defensive midfielder comes with a big reputation, having captained India in the U-17 World Cup back in 2017. Amarjit recently broke into the India senior team and made headlines after he became the first player to be born in the 21st century to play for the country. The hard-working midfielder has already established himself as a mainstay in Igor Stimac's side and earned high praise for his boundless energy and never-say-die attitude on the pitch.
Signed by Jamshedpur FC in 2018, he was loaned back to Indian Arrows to help further his development. He shone for the Hero I-League side last season, becoming a vital cog for the Arrows midfield and earned himself a national team call up. His best performance came against Kerala Blasters in the Hero Super Cup 2019, where he scored a brace to help his team through. This season, Amarjit is expected to be back with his parent club playing his first-ever Hero ISL and Jamshedpur fans will have a lot of expectations from the young gun.
Narender Gahlot (Jamshedpur FC)
The 18-year-old centre back will also play for Jamshedpur this season after joining them from Indian Arrows. Like Amarjit, Gahlot is one of the flag bearers of Stimac's youth revolution in the national team and scored in only his second game for India, giving the Blue Tigers the lead against Syria in the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019. In the process, he also became the second-youngest goal scorer for the Indian national team.
Gahlot made 10 appearances for Indian Arrows in the last Hero I-League season and his style of play classifies him as a modern-day ball-playing centre back. Playing and training alongside Jamshedpur's Spanish ace Tiri may help the youngster progress rapidly and leave his mark on Hero ISL 2019-20.
Jobby Justin (ATK)
The 25-year-old striker hails from Kerala but shone for Hero I-League giants East Bengal last season before swapping East Bengal colours for ATK’s red and white.
Jobby was signed by the Red and Gold brigade back in 2017 after starring in the inaugural Kerala Premier League for Kerala State Electricity Board. Although opportunities were scarce in his first season at the club, the 2018-19 campaign saw him take centre stage. An impressive run of form saw him end the season as the highest Indian goal scorer in the Hero I-League with nine goals. The forward is a good physical presence upfront and has the pace to beat a man or two, making him a handful for defences. His performances from last season also earned him his India debut recently.
With ATK boasting a number of top attacking talents like Roy Krishna, David Williams, Dario Vidosic and others, it remains to be seen how Antonio Lopez Habas opts to utilise Jobby in his system but nevertheless, he can very well emerge as an X-factor for ATK this season.
Bilal Khan (Kerala Blasters)
Goalkeeper Bilal Khan joined Kerala Blasters following an outstanding season with Real Kashmir FC wherein he ended the season as ‘Goalkeeper of the Season’ in Hero I-League 2018-19. He kept nine clean sheets in 19 appearances for the Srinagar-based club, helping them finish third and thereby proving to be an integral part in the Snow Leopards’ debut season in the Hero I-League.
This is the shot-stopper's second stint with a Hero ISL side, although he never featured for his previous club FC Pune City. The 25-year-old custodian is one of the best emerging goalkeeping talents in the country and will be keen to prove himself between the sticks in the 2019-20 season under new head coach Eelco Schattorie.
Michael Regin (ATK)
Joining the two-time Hero ISL champions from reigning Hero I-League champions Chennai City FC, Michael Regin was signed along with brother Michael Soosairaj, who impressed for Jamshedpur FC last campaign. The Tamil Nadu-born midfielder was a key component in Akbar Nawaz’s Hero I-League title-winning Chennai City side last term and will be eager to impress in his debut Hero ISL season with ATK.
Suresh Singh Wangjam (Bengaluru FC)
A product of the AIFF academy, Suresh Singh Wangjam was signed by reigning champions Bengaluru FC for Hero ISL 2019-20. The 19-year-old midfielder was an integral part of the Indian Arrows midfield last season. The highly-rated youngster will hope to progress even further under the tutelage of head coach Carles Cuadrat. Furthermore, training with the likes of Raphael Augusto, Sunil Chhetri and other top players in the Bengaluru squad will only help fast-track his growth. Suresh's signing may be one for the future but with Bengaluru's reputation of grooming young talents, the midfielder can have a big impact if he can make the most of his opportunities.
Edwin Sydney Vanspaul (Chennaiyin FC)
Another member of the Hero I-League 2018-19 winning Chennai City FC outfit, Edwin Vanspaul will come as a welcome addition to John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC side for Hero ISL 2019-20.
Predominantly a full-back, the 26-year-old started his career as a striker, and has been used as a central midfielder, winger, right-back and left-back over the years. He played the majority of his last two seasons at right-back, notching up eight assists. Chennaiyin fans will hope that the versatile defender can help turn the fortunes of the side after a dismal 2018-19 campaign.
Gaurav Bora (Odisha FC)
The young defender was another player who featured prominently for the Hero I-League 2018-19 champions Chennai City FC, playing in each of their 20 matches last season. Bora was a rock in their defence and even scored an important brace in the last game of the season against Minerva Punjab to ensure his team won the trophy. Despite being on the books of FC Pune City before, Bora has never been part of a Hero ISL matchday squad and will hope to prove his mettle in the upcoming campaign.