This season’s Indian Super League is well and truly in full swing, with teams settling down with their formations and the foreign players getting used to the challenges of playing in Indian conditions. There is more emphasis on Indian players than ever before, with a new rule stating that a minimum of 6 Indian players have to be named in the starting XI.
The rule ensures that teams and managers are looking more and more towards Indian players to make the difference in their team, and are also busy identifying young, talented local youngsters who have the potential to be the focal points in an elongated season this year. With this in mind, The Ring Side View brings you the five Indian youngsters to watch out for in this year’s ISL, having the potential to be the stars of Indian football in the future.
Part of Bengaluru FC’s squad for their debut Indian Super League season, Malsawmzuala is currently one of the most exciting young midfielders in the country at the moment. Former Bengaluru FC manager and current technical director of ATK Ashley Westwood has spoken highly of him and his capabilities as a pure holding midfielder in the past. He has played in the Indian Super League before for Delhi Dynamos and even scored a goal for them, so the youngster knows exactly what to expect when it comes to playing in the league. If he gets a chance in the league this season, Malsawmzuala is bound to catch a few eyeballs.
Bodo Baoringdao Jr
Part of a five-member training team that traveled to France for a training stint with club side FC Metz, Bodo is known for his lightning pace and trickery, combined with clever off the ball runs. Part of the Indian national team setup across all age groups, it is hard to see Bodo without a senior national cap for too much longer. The youngster from Assam played in the I-League last season for Minerva Punjab FC, and got on to the scoresheet to become the youngest ever scorer in the history of the I-League. The Mizo lad is playing for Chennaiyin FC this season, and this ISL season could truly be the breakthrough season for him.
Playing for ATK in this edition of the ISL, Nongrum is a right-winger from Meghalaya who was first spotted during the Subroto Cup, and then selected by Shillong Lajong FC for their age-group teams. Having played against Bengaluru FC in the I-League before, Nongrum was praised by Ashley Westwood who wasted no time in roping in him for his ATK squad this season. Primarily a right-winger but also capable of playing through the middle, Nongrum is known for his turn of pace, and will surely give opposition defenders nightmares in this season of the Indian Super League!
Seminlen ‘Len’ Doungel was called the next Bhaichung Bhutia by the East Bengal faithful a few years back when he played for the Kolkata club. But Len now turns out for NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League, and is one of the most important members of the side. His rise may not have been as rapid as expected a few years back, but Len’s dribbling abilities combined with a good presence in the air are finally being noticed. Highly rated by Ex East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan and Scott O’ Donnell, former AIFF Technical Director, Len has a great future in Indian football!
Possibly the most exciting Indian youngster to be currently plying his trade in the ISL, Lallianzuala Chhangte came through the ranks at the DSK Shivajians academy in Pune, and scored two goals on his debut for the Indian national team against Nepal in 2015. Chhangte is playing for the Delhi Dynamos this season, and announced his arrival immediately with an assist and a goal in his very first game against FC Pune City. Possessing all the traits required to be a deadly finisher and not afraid to take on defenders in one-on-one battles, Chhangte’s refreshing attacking attitude will stand Indian football in good stead in the years to come.