The 17-year-old made appeared thrice for the Men of Steel last season and showed glimpses of his talent.
Jamshedpur FC had a tough outing in the Indian Super League last season, but head coach Antonio Iriondo gave opportunities to several academy players to showcase their talent at the big stage. One such player who rose through the ranks was young defender Sandip Mandi.
The 17-year-old defender, however, would like to forget his debut where he mistimed a back pass under pressure from Jayesh Rane which allowed Roy Krishna to take a clear run at goal. It wasn’t the best start which Mandi would have wanted in the ISL but he improved with every match ever since. The Tata Football Academy (TFA) graduate featured in three matches this season and clocked 257 minutes.
Khel Now takes a look at his journey from the tribal background of West Bengal to making his name in Jamshedpur.
Age – 17
Date of Birth: 11 June 2002
Position: Left Back/Centre Back
Sandip made his Indian Super League debut for Jamshedpur on February 2, 2020, against ATK at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, where the Men of Steel lost 0-3. He followed it up with starts against Mumbai City FC and NorthEast United FC.
Background and Positives
Hailing from West Bengal, Sandip Mandi comes from a family where football runs in their veins. His father, Sundar Mandi, played as a defender for Railways for many years but had his issues on not taking the next step into professional football. On the other hand, his uncle Sagram Mandi struck the right chords at the Kolkata Maidan plying his trade for clubs like Tollygunge Agragami, Aryan and eventually joining Mohun Bagan. However, he also faded away with time.
Ever since, Sandip Mandi, at the age of 17, is shouldering the dreams of his father and his uncle to make it big as a professional footballer. The young defender learnt the ropes at Kalyani Municipal Football Academy. From there, looking at his potential, he was called up for the West Bengal junior team. His capability and impressive performances for the Bengal juniors also earned him a call to the India U-14 side and where he was scouted by the Tata Football Academy. Later on, Sandip Mandi also represented India at the U-16 level.
The versatile defender also represented TFA at the Vedanta Youth Cup in 2019 in Goa where the U-18 teams of top youth academies in the country including Bengaluru FC, Reliance Foundation Young Champs and Sesa Football Academy, went head to head against each other. Although TFA finished third in the tournament, Sandip Mandi caught the attention of many with his performances. Moreover, he was also adjudged the best defender of the tournament by former Indian national team goalkeeper Brahmanand Sankhwalkar.
Having excelling in his role at TFA, the budding defender was also a vital cog in the Jamshedpur FC reserves side and featured in four matches in the 2nd division I-League last season before making his debut in the ISL for the Men of Steel.
His well-built physique and good defensive instincts made him one of the top talents to rise up from the Academy this season. Although he had a forgettable start to career in the ISL, considering his mere age one can only see more positives than negatives in him.
Aspects to Improve
For Sandip, he has struck the right chords at the junior level and therefore got recognised by someone of Antonio Iriondo’s stature. The 17-year-old is predominantly a centre-back but can also put in a good shift as a left-back. However, playing in modern systems, Sandip needs to streamline his passing abilities and will definitely be more matured as he gains more experience at the big stage. His defensive instincts will improve too in time which will make him a good versatile option for coaches in future.
The defender’s style of play and defensive instincts give us a shade of Subhasish Bose in his younger days. Sandip’s ability to play as a centre-back and also as a left-back draws a similarity with the India international and coincidentally, both hail from West Bengal.
That said, Sandip would want to follow Subhasish Bose’s footsteps and make it big in the ISL and also for the national team in future.
The teenager currently has a three-year contract with Jamshedpur FC and will look to get more game time next season. Considering his defensive abilities and versatility, he will hope that he develops his areas of weakness and with every game, he will look to get better. Jamshedpur FC have a good history of nurturing youngsters and giving them opportunities at the big stage and Sandip Mandi will be hoping to continue that trend, making himself known in the big stage next season.