Qualifying for the senior FIFA World Cup, getting back in the Olympics fold, being among the top 10 teams in Asia – Indian football has set itself some lofty goals for the future.
While the current batch, spearheaded by Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, has laid down a solid platform to launch these grand ambitions, achieving these are certain to take a decade or so, realistically.
The circuit is abundant with raw talent and the way they are refined will have an incredible impact on the course that Indian football takes in the near future. On that note, let us delve deeper into the five rising stars in the country from 2022.
Looking ahead, here are the best young Indian football players who may prove crucial in Indian football’s journey to its promised land.
The Mumbai City FC forward powered India to the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-20 title with eight goals in the tournament this year. For long, the national team has been in the search of a bunch of talented strikers to come up the ranks.
In that context, Gurkirat’s performance in the aforementioned tournament was an encouraging development. The 19-year-old has a strong built and an impressive finesse to his finishing. Moreover, he is bound to only get better under the tutelage of Des Buckingham at Mumbai, having already made regular appearances off the bench this season.
Amarjit Singh Kiyam
Captain of India’s 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup team, Manipur’s Amarjit Singh Kiyam, is one of best Indian football players of his generation.
Having earned his stripes for AIFF’s developmental Indian Arrows side in the I-League, Amarjit made the transition to Indian Super League (ISL), impressing for Jamshedpur FC in the 2019-20 campaign.
When fit, Amarjit has also been a regular in Igor Stimac’s senior national team setup since making his India debut at the historic King’s Cup in Thailand in June 2019. An absolute ‘live wire’ on the pitch, as dubbed by Sunil Chhetri, Amarjit started as a defensive midfielder but has developed into a top box-to-box player in the past few years.
The Indian footballer is known for his hard tackles and is good at making clever runs into the opposition box to score – a playing style which seems moulded on Italian World Cup winner Daniele De Rossi**.**
Anirudh Thapa is the captain of the FC Chennaiyin club and is currently one of the best players in India. He has scored three goals for the India national team in 38 appearances and is on his way to becoming a future star. Thapa was born in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, and started playing football at age 10. Thapa is known for his passing, elusiveness, footwork, and on-field awareness.
Sahal Abdul Samad
Sahal Abdul Samad is a prolific striker who has made a name for himself at both the league stage and the national level. Born in the UAE, Samad is a fierce striker who has scored 10 goals for Kerala Blasters in 82 appearances. He has also been playing for the national team since 2019 and has two international goals in 20 appearances.
Naorem Roshan Singh
Naorem Roshan Singh is a Manipur-born footballer who is among the best defenders in Indian football. However, Singh is known for his versatility. He has scored one goal for Bengaluru FC in 19 appearances and also became one of the youngest players on the national team.
Mohammad Yasir is a Manipur-born football player who is one of the most promising prospects in India. Yasir plays for the Hyderabad FC club in the ISL and has scored 5 goals in 59 appearances.
Lallianzuala Chhangte is currently one of the best football players in India. The Mizoram native has scored 4 international goals for the Indian national team in 16 appearances. Chhangte currently plays in the Indian Super League for Mumbai City and has scored 4 goals in 16 appearances.