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Mishra, Rahul, Lalengmawia, Suresh, Ali and more – Indian Arrows Talent Factory Produces ISL’s Most Promising Youth

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Lalengmawia, Rahim Ali, Suresh Wangjam are among the many former Arrows players who are storming the ISL …

When the Kerala Blasters faced Hyderabad FC on Sunday night, a fierce one-on-one battle was unfolding on the flanks between two promising youngsters from Rahul KP and Akash Mishra.

In most cases, Mishra has done well to contain the Blasters winger, but on one occasion he was confused when Rahul chose to pass the ball over his head to trick him. He’s a versatile winger who can play on both flanks, has pace, skill and the zeal to take on defenders in one-on-one situations. He has gained confidence since the days of the Indian Arrows and his development is on the right track. Over time, if he manages to improve his decision making and finishing, he will be one of the most wanted players in the country.

Mishra was one of the brilliant sparks of a Hyderabad team going through a transition under Manuel Marquez. He was instrumental in their victory over Odisha, and against Bengaluru he not only performed his defensive duties to perfection, but also aided the attack with his passing ability. Throughout the game, Mishra hit 68 touches on the ball and made 39 passes, with 78% accuracy, which is a remarkable number for a young professional at the start of his club career. In fact, after the game his coach went on to say he had the potential to become the best left-back in the country.

Another product of the Arrows team that is making a name in the ISL is NorthEast United’s Lalengmawia. From the previous season itself he is one of the undisputed starters of the squad and in this campaign he has stepped up his performances and is one of the four captains selected by coach Gérard Nus. At just 20 years old, he became the youngest player to take the field with the armband against FC Goa on November 30, 2020.

Along with Khassa Camara, her presence adds the indispensable steel in the Highlander Midfielder. He’s not only adept at regaining possession, but his ball control and distribution skills help him keep up the pace of the midfield. No wonder Nus has high expectations from this local boy.

Rahul’s teammate and other defensive midfielder like Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh is also slowly finding his feet under Kibu Vicuna. The player has been unlucky with injuries in the past, but he is gradually realizing his potential. He has some impressive shifts in the center of the park and likes to stay involved with the ball. In 232 minutes, he has 131 touches and a passing accuracy of 82.4 percent. Plus, his aerial prowess is a bonus that comes in handy when setting up set pieces. Against East Bengal, it was his header in added time, almost resembling his U17 World Cup goal against Colombia, which saved a point for the Tuskers.

But it is Chennaiyin FC that is reaping the dividends from the lineage of some of the best young talent in the development structure of the AIFF (All India Football Federation). Rahim Ali and Deepak Tangri have grown in stature every match day. Ali already has two goals under his belt.

Against FC Goa, he was in an offside position when Rafael Crivellaro tried to take his marker off. But at the end of the time he fell a bit to beat the line and when his skipper pierced a low cross he was there to convert. While against East Bengal, he simply dismissed Bikash Jairu’s weak attempt to protect the ball to score Chennaiyin’s second goal.

Rahul KP, Bengaluru vs. Kerala Blasters

On the other hand, Tangri dispenses with his midfield responsibilities with maturity and composure. He breaks attacks and only if he could improve his passing skills he would be an invaluable asset to Csaba Laszlo.

Suresh Singh Wangjam of Bengaluru FC is another player receiving rave reviews. Yet another Indian Arrows product, Suresh established himself last season and has since established himself as a key player in Carles Cuadrat. Suresh is a midfielder with a lot of energy and enterprise and is often seen doing Bengaluru FC’s dirty work in the midfield. His pace of work means he is making his presence felt in all areas of the pitch and is definitely one to watch in the near future.

The other notable teenager who catches eyeballs is Aniket Jadhav of Jamshedpur FC. He scored the winner against NorthEast United and started in Owen Coyle’s last three games, showing he has earned the manager’s trust.

NorthEast United winger Ninthoinganba Meetei is also an Arrows product. The nimble-footed winger has also impressed whenever he has been called up by Gerard Nus. Blessed with rhythm, Ninthoi is a name that is tagged for bigger things.

Then there are the likes of Amarjit Singh, Narender Gahlot and Jitendra Singh (all Jamshedpur FC) have also proven themselves but have yet to impress this season due to fitness issues. It should be noted that Amarjit and Narender have already played for the senior Indian national team!

If these names shine, there are a few names waiting on the wings to prove their mettle. They are Vikram Pratap Singh from the city of Mumbai and Rohit Danu from Hyderabad. They haven’t gotten the number of minutes they would have liked yet, but you also have to be patient. In Sergio Lobera and Marquez, there are two capable managers to guide them and they are the best people to judge when both players are ready for the rigors of ISL.

It should be noted that this is their first season in ISL, and with time on their side, it’s a matter of when and not if, that they will announce their arrival in India’s first national competition with performances extravagant.