These players have shown maturity way beyond their years.

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 is the biggest platform for an Indian footballer in terms of domestic tournaments. Getting a chance to play in the league is a huge opportunity. Many young players who have massive potential are playing in the premier division of Indian football.

These young players have impressed Indian football fans with their performances in the 2022-23 season. There is no shortage of upcoming talented players in India, they need a platform to showcase their qualities and ISL clubs provide that to them. 

The ongoing season of the ISL has seen sensational performances by young players in particular. These individuals are going toe to toe with the experienced players on the pitch. On that note, here are the top five youngsters (U-23) in the 2022-23 season so far (as of 26 January 2023):

Special Mentions – Before the top five youngsters are listed, special mention goes to youngsters like Lalchungnunga and Vincy Barretto who have been very impressive this season for East Bengal FC and Chennaiyin FC respectively. While they have a lot of room for improvement, their performances have been promising.

Narender Gahlot

Narender Gahlot plays an important role in the heart of Odisha FC’s defence. The 22-year-old has gradually improved over the last few years. He was a significant part of Owen Coyle’s Jamshedpur FC which won the ISL Shield last term.

In the ongoing season, Gahlot has shown courage in the face of adversity. In 12 matches and 929 minutes of football, he has made 32 clearances and 24 blocks. Slowly but surely, his name for a national team spot is gaining more weight.

Abdul Rabeeh

Abdul Rabeeh is one the most improved players in the 2022-23 season. He is used mostly as an impact substitute by Manolo Marquez at Hyderabad FC. The full-back has the raw pace that can trouble any defender in a one-on-one situation.

He loves to go forward and contribute in the attacking third. In 158 minutes of football, he has already delivered two assists. He will surely receive more game time in the forthcoming matches as HFC has already qualified for the playoffs. 

Sivasakthi Narayanan

Sivasakthi Narayanan plays for Bengaluru FC. This season, he has enjoyed more game time under Simon Grayson. The striker has scored two goals and two assists in 494 minutes of game time for the Blues. 

He also scored five goals during the Durand Cup 2022 campaign helping the Blues lift the trophy. The 21-year-old could be the solution to the lack of goalscoring forwards in Indian football, particularly for the national team.

Jiteshwor Singh

Jiteshwor Singh’s first season in the Indian Super League is going extremely well. He is delivering consistently for Chennaiyin FC, emerging as a regular starter in the midfield. The 21-year-old is a box-to-box midfielder who has an incredible work rate.

He recovers the ball, blocks passing lines, makes interceptions, initiates turnovers and makes passes with conviction. It is without a shadow of a doubt that he will be a major contender for the ISL Emerging Player of the Season award.

Anwar Ali

Anwar Ali’s story is one of the most inspiring tales to come out of Indian football. At one point, the defender was barred from playing football due to a heart condition. Despite the odds, he made an incredible comeback and joined FC Goa on an 18-month loan from Delhi FC in January 2022. Today, he is perhaps the most important domestic player in the lineup.

The 22-year-old has played 1348 minutes of football from 15 matches already in the 2022-23 campaign. He has scored once and provided two assists during this time. Furthermore, Ali is set to play for ATK Mohun Bagan from next season onwards.

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