There are some exciting young Indian players in the Hero ISL
The Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has brought in a lot of world class footballers in the form of Alessandro Del Piero, Robert Pirès, Luis García, Elano Blumer, David James and many more. But when you look for young Indian players within the ISL, there are some amazing talented players that are coming through the ranks.
The ISL has been amazing for a lot of Indian footballers to ply their trade at this high level of football, but also with the added pressure that comes with playing at such a level. But more importantly, I believe that the ISL has also been a conduit and a learning ground for a lot of Indian footballers to learn and develop their skills, because they are learning from some of the best footballers and coaches in the world.
Let’s talk about the young Indian players to begin with. Of the young Indian players who have started to shine, there are some that have flourished quickly and found consistency a bit difficult to come, whereas there are some that have shown a solid level of performance and then they have gone on to build on that and maintain that standard.
Arnab Mondal (R) has been a consistent performer for Atlético de Kolkata
I look at Atlético de Kolkata and I see Cavin Lobo, and for me he has to be one of the most exciting young Indian players at the moment; but then I look at the back and I see Arnab Mondal, and his performance levels have been almost like a metronome, giving quality performance after quality performance after performance. I cannot remember him making any drastic errors, to the point that he is almost invisible, because you do not notice him. That is the sign of a player who is getting on with his business and doing what he is supposed to do.
Sandesh Jhingan (R) has shown maturity that belies his years
I particularly like Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters) as a defender, mainly due to the fact that he played left-back, right back and centre back for his club. This in itself is very impressive, particularly for a 21-year-old at any club at any level, being able to accommodate the discipline that come with occupying three positions. I have been thoroughly impressed with his athleticism, competitive nature, and the attitude that he brings into his game; technically also, he looked very solid.
Another player is Rehenesh TP, the goalkeeper at North East United. Again, looking at him technically and how he reads the game, he is very alert to dangerous situations developing behind his defence, in addition to the technical side of shot-stopping. He has literally kept his team in games by keeping the ball out of the net, at times when it was needed the most. I think he has been a bit of a surprise for a lot of Indian fans. I am pleased for him that the opportunity has come his way, and being a goalkeeper, he has quite literally grabbed it with both hands.
That is why I have to single out Jhingan, Arnab and Rehenesh as those players that have consistently played well since the beginning of the league and also surpassed expectations. Arnab has been able to give some consistency to Kolkata’s performances from the back, Jhingan has been able to play in three different positions in a new environment, that is an exciting thing, and Rehenesh, who is vying for the Golden Gloves with goalkeepers who have a higher profile than him, it speaks volumes of his potential and career going ahead.
I really hope that young Indian players are able to learn from their experiences here in the ISL and take their own performances forward. They should also look to elevating their performances and not be happy with where they are. And if they have coaches who have similar thinking, then the sky is the limit for these players.