Each of these youngsters have shown promise to become regulars at their respective clubs.

The Durand Cup is one the most prestigious tournaments in India. This year, it was even more special as all ISL teams participated in the tournament. This move has benefitted the youngsters a lot, with most of the teams fielding their second-string sides to test their bench strength. As a result, quite of number of young players attracted attention of the fans and announced their entrance into the Indian football vertical. Overall, the precursor event to the ISL will be helpful to the clubs in deciding their final squad.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 young players who impressed in the Durand Cup 2022.

10. Dylan D’Silva

Dylan was the second-choice goalkeeper at Odisha FC and did a good job keeping clean sheets in both the games he played. Of course, Lalthuammawia Ralte will be the first-choice goalkeeper in the ISL. But Dylan’s Durand-campaign will tempt Josep Gombau to think before coming to a conclusion. Even if not a regular, Dylan deserves a handful of opportunities in the ISL. 

9. Vikram Partap Singh

Vikram Partap Singh celebrating after his goal against ATK Mohun Bagan in ISL 2021-22. (Courtesy: MCFC Media)

The Mumbai City FC forward made good use of the limited opportunities he got in the Durand Cup, scoring the opening goal against the Indian Navy while his team was trailing. He has been with the Mumbai side for a few seasons now and has made good use of his opportunities. His exploits in the recently concluded competition will be helpful in earning him extra minutes under his belt.

8. Muhammed Aimen

Kerala Blasters were one of the few ISL sides who fielded their reserve team in the Durand Cup. Aimen had a good outing, scoring three goals for the Yellow Submarine. His first touch in particular was fantastic; not a lot of players possess that at such a young age. Kerala Blasters qualified for the QFs with a young team and now coach Ivan Vukamunovic will have a wider pool of players to select from.

7. Shubham Sarangi

Coming back from an injury is never easy, but Shubham has done an excellent job, combining with Sahil Panwar from the left. Notably, the 22-year-old also played an important role in the offensive department. Shubham continuously ventured into the final third and delivered quality crosses for Odisha FC’s forwards. 

6. Muhammad Ajsal

Ajsal along with Aimen formed a good combo, helping each other out in the attacking third regularly. Along with scoring goals, Ajsal also has the knack of delivering good assists dissecting defensive lines. With Subha Ghosh also in the squad, Ajsal made good use of the opportunity he got.

5. Narender Gahlot 

Narender Gahlot and Muhammad Ajsal in a duel in Durand Cup 2022. (Courtesy: Durand Cup Media)

The Odisha FC centre-back formed an excellent duo with his partner Carlos Delgado, complementing each other well. Coming from Jamshedpur FC, he adapted to the side quickly under Josep Gombau. Odisha FC was the only side to not concede a goal in the entire group stage. The ultimate test though will start next month in the ISL. Gahlot’s performance in the Durand Cup will motivate the youngster to do even better in the Indian Super League.

4. Muhammed Nemil

Nemil started off the season on a bright note, scoring in the first two encounters against Mohammedan SC and Indian Air Force. The goal against the Kolkata team was a special one. It was an inch-perfect goal from outside the box, dissecting through a lot of defenders. Speaking about the previous ISL season, he wasn’t a regular starter for FC Goa. With such foray in the Durand Cup, Muhammed Nemil will now aim for a spot in the starting eleven in the ISL.

3. Gyamar Nikum

The goal Nikum scored against ATK Mohun Bagan in the dying minutes in the league stages remains to be one of the best moments of the Durand Cup 2022. The raw pace he generates helps him get past defenders quickly. He also scored a smart goal against Mumbai City FC, but his team Rajasthan United lost the game. Hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, Nikum is someone the fans would love to see donning the national colours in the future.

2. Lalchungnunga

He was one of the bright spots in defence for East Bengal in the Durand Cup. His composure and cool-brained execution in defence made him stand apart! The 21-year-old also earned the praise of the fans. He was previously a part of Sreenidi Deccan’s 3rd place finish in the I-League last season, featuring in 17 matches. This year, he is on a loan to East Bengal and is expected to start alongside Ivan Gonzalez or Charalambos Kyriakou in the ISL.

1. Sivasakthi Narayanan

Sivasakthi celebrates after scoring against Mumbai City in the Durand Cup 2022 final. (Courtesy: BFC Media)

The forward from Bengaluru FC scored four goals, mostly coming in as a substitute for Sunil Chettri. The fresh legs in the second half have helped him get into goal-scoring positions quickly. Not many Indian forwards get into the right position at the right time. Sivasakthi seems to have that instinct. 

Siva already has the experience of playing in the AFC Cup and the ISL. Also, he featured extremely well in the Next Gen Cup 2022. His aim should now be to fixate his spot in Bengaluru’s line-up and take the field for the Indian national team in the next few years.

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