The ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season has posed significant challenges for Hyderabad FC. Following the departure of key players in the summer like Bartholomew Ogbeche, Odei Onaindia, and Akash Mishra, as well as head coach Manolo Marquez, who led the team to their first ISL Cup victory during the 2021-22, the club underwent a period of transition. Thangboi Singto was appointed as the new head coach, and the squad underwent significant restructuring.

Midway through the season, Hyderabad FC experienced another setback with a mass exodus of players during the January transfer window, including influential Indian players like Nikhil Poojary, Chinglensana Singh, and Hitesh Sharma, among others who were part of the team's core for the last few seasons. 

As a result, the team has struggled to achieve positive results and currently finds itself at the bottom of the table, with their hopes of making the playoffs all but over.

Despite these challenges, there have been notable performances from the team's young Indian players. Despite an eight-game losing streak starting in December, Hyderabad FC has shown signs of improvement in recent matches. They secured a draw against NorthEast United FC and clinched their first win of the season against Chennaiyin FC. What made the win special was that Hyderabad FC got the job done with an all-Indian playing eleven, a landmark achievement in the history of the league.

Since the league's restart in January, Hyderabad FC's young talents have demonstrated promising skills and resilience against stronger opponents. The departures during the transfer window have provided Singto with an opportunity to give chances to both existing squad members and players from the reserve team.

With that, we have picked five young players from Hyderabad FC that have impressed us the most.

Mark Zothanpuia

Zothanpuia, a longstanding member of Hyderabad FC since its inception in 2019, has recently emerged as a crucial figure for the team. Although he hasn't been a regular starter in the past few seasons, his role has significantly evolved since the league resumed in January.

Primarily a midfielder, Zothanpuia has showcased remarkable versatility by seamlessly transitioning into roles as a full-back and central defender under the guidance of Singto. Despite the positional changes, the player hailing from Manipur has impressed with his adaptability and effectiveness in these new roles.

Although he missed Hyderabad FC's victory against Chennaiyin FC due to suspension, Zothanpuia has been a mainstay in the starting lineup for the last seven league games. This consistent inclusion underscores the trust and confidence that Singto has placed in him, highlighting his importance to the team.

Ramhlunchhunga

Ramhlunchhunga, affectionately known as 'Chhunga Hmar', has emerged as one of the most thrilling young wingers of the season, characterised by his aggressive style, lightning-quick speed, and formidable attacking prowess. Despite facing an injury setback at the beginning of the campaign, the 22-year-old has returned with vigor and has been a consistent presence for Hyderabad FC ever since.

Deployed on the left flank, Ramhlunchhunga has started in the last eight matches, consistently proving to be a nightmare for opposition defenders. His fearless approach to taking on defenders has been a standout feature of his game. Notably, he opened his scoring account for Hyderabad FC in a closely contested match against Bengaluru FC, where he showcased his goal-scoring abilities with a well-taken strike.

Hailing from Mizoram, Ramhlunchhunga has also demonstrated his scoring prowess in other competitions such as the Durand Cup and the Kalinga Super Cup, further solidifying his reputation as a versatile and dynamic attacker capable of making a significant impact for his team.

Alex Saji 

Saji, a versatile defender capable of slotting in anywhere across the backline, was acquired by Hyderabad FC from NorthEast United FC last season. Initially finding it challenging to secure a regular starting spot, the Kerala-born player has come into his own this season.

Saji made his first league start for Hyderabad FC in January against FC Goa and has since been a consistent presence in the starting lineup, with the exception of a suspension he served against Bengaluru FC. Despite his young age of 23, he has emerged as a leader in the team's defensive setup, forging a strong partnership with Mohammad Rafi.

His standout performance came during Hyderabad FC's victory over Chennaiyin FC, where he played a pivotal role in securing a clean sheet for his team. Saji's defensive prowess and contribution to the historic win earned him the Player of the Match award.

Abdul Rabeeh 

Rabeeh has consistently been one of the most dynamic wingers in Hyderabad FC's squad over the past few seasons, often making significant impacts coming off the bench during Marquez's tenure. However, under the current setup, he has been given the opportunity to start in the last eight matches, showcasing his ability to pose a threat on the opposite flank with his exceptional crossing, dribbling skills, and pace.

Despite not yet opening his scoring account for the season, Rabeeh's influence on the pitch has been profound. He has been instrumental in providing key services for his teammates in attack while also diligently fulfilling his defensive duties when tracking back. His all-around contributions have made him an indispensable player.

Sajad Parray

Originally from Jammu and Kashmir, Parray was recruited by Hyderabad FC's reserve team during the summer transfer window. Although capable of playing as a centre-back or full-back, Parray seamlessly transitioned into the right-back role for the first team following Nikhil Poojary's departure to Bengaluru FC in January.

At just 20 years old, Parray made his debut in the ISL against FC Goa in January and has since been a regular starter under Thangboi Singto's management. Despite being thrust into the first team unexpectedly, Parray has exhibited maturity beyond his years, showcasing the traits of a complete full-back.

His defining moment came in the match against Chennaiyin FC, where his late goal secured Hyderabad FC's first victory of the season. This crucial contribution not only highlighted his attacking prowess but also capped off a memorable performance where he also played a pivotal role in keeping a clean sheet, solidifying his impact at both ends of the pitch.