These youngsters are expected to reach greater heights in the upcoming years.
Coming towards the end of the calendar year, it is only fitting that Khel Now profiles the topmost up and coming stars of Indian football. The sport is about to embark into a challenging phase in the country now, with multiple youngsters with beaming potential rising out of the oblivion to take over the centre stage in the coming years. 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.
5. Gurkirat Singh
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.
4. Gyamar Nikum
The Rajasthan United teenager broke into the spotlight after scoring goals against ISL heavyweights Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan in the Durand Cup earlier this year. The 18-year-old has a quick feet, a great sense of positional awareness and pace to burn.
He can tear apart the opposition defence with his dazzling runs and has performed consistently well first in the I-League Qualifiers, the I-League and finally in the Durand Cup a few months back. The Arunachal Pradesh midfielder has abundant scope of improvement still. But the glimpses of his talent that he has displayed so far are enough for a large chunk of the Indian football populace to stand up and take notice.
The East Bengal defender has become a mainstay in Stephen Constantine’s backline this season. He has played every minute of the campaign so far, recording 1.1 interceptions and 4.7 on an average clearances per game.
The 22-year-old has undergone stints with Aizawl FC and Sreenedhi Deccan earlier in the I-League. He has adapted seamlessly to the challenges in the ISL and displayed tremendous defensive tenacity as well. His performance has recently earned him a long-term deal with the Red & Golds. Can Lalchungnunga be knocking on the door of the national team soon? Only time will tell.
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2. Jiteshwor Singh
The 21-year-old Chennaiyin FC midfielder has slotted in comfortably at the centre of the park for the Marina Machans. Jiteshwor has made a significant step up after having spent the initial phase of his senior career with NEROCA FC and Bhawanipore FC. In seven games this season, the midfielder has tackled once in every 12 minutes on an average.
He has maintained a nearly 75 per cent passing accuracy and also made a block per 29 minutes. Jiteshwor has been industrious, playing out from deep inside the midfield and screening the backline with aplomb so far. He arguably has bundles of potential to emerge as a top enforcer but will have to ensure that he continues to keep getting better in his role particularly as games become more challenging and competitive in the second half of the season.
1. Hormipam Ruivah
Having progressed through the ranks after featuring in India’s victory in the SAFF U-18 Championship in 2018, Hormipam has become a regular in Kerala Blasters’ backline since last season. The centre-back officially joined the Kochi-based club in 2021 and has recorded 3.3 tackles, 3.1 clearances, 1.4 interceptions along with a 75.89 per cent passing success rate across 800 minutes in 10 games this season so far.
The 21-year-old has displayed fine defensive awareness along with an assertiveness to pass with purpose out from the back. To clock a string of consistent performances from the heart of the back-four at merely 21 years of age in the ISL is quite impressive. Definitely, Hormipam can set his eyes on greater things if he sustains this good run of form for the foreseeable future.