While Igor Stimac’s selections were generally satisfactory, there were also a few notable absentees on the list.
On Tuesday, Indian Football team head coach Igor Stimac announced the 35-member probable’s list for the Blue Tigers’ upcoming international friendlies against Oman and the UAE. The Croatian introduced 10 new faces in the announcement with major importance being given to the impressive performances of upcoming talents in the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season.
Several players like Akash Mishra, Chinglensana Singh, Lalengmawia, Liston Colaco, Ishan Pandita and Bipin Singh among others deservedly received the call-up. However, quite a few players couldn’t make the final cut despite delivering some impressive performances during the course of the league.
In the following, we take a look at five such players who were not called upon despite performing admirably.
5. Lenny Rodrigues (ATK Mohun Bagan FC)
Rodrigues has been impeccably consistent over the years but failed to make it to the national team on multiple occasions. The defensive midfielder has been rock solid at the centre of the park for both FC Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan this season. The 33-year-old has recorded 3.43 tackles, 1.56 interceptions and 39.56 passes on an average per game.
Rodrigues guards his team’s backline with perfection and breaks down threatening attacks with his incredible understanding of the game. He is adept at sitting deep in the centre of the park and initiating passing moves precisely. The midfielder’s abilities with his feet have improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Rodrigues is the quintessential anchorman that a team would desire to have in the heart of their midfield. Yet somehow, he continues to miss the radar of the national team coach.
4. Amey Ranawade (Mumbai City FC)
Ranawade has been one of the most striking younger talents to have emerged this season. Surpassing Mohammed Rakip – Ranawade has made the right-back spot his own for Mumbai City FC. He has been solid defensively and regularly halted the opposition’s attacking moves down the flank. The fullback has been unfazed of committing challenges and displayed some stellar performances consistently.
The 22-year-old has recorded 3.33 tackles, 1.72 interceptions, 1.66 clearances and 32.44 passes per game on average. He also makes 1.83 crosses in each match and looks to be a bundle of energy down the right wing. His moves closer to the opposition’s box might still need some work to reap greater rewards. However, the young lad seemed to have made a strong case for a national team call-up in the last few months. Now, it is even more important for him to maintain his performances and keep knocking on Stimac’s doors for the time being.
3. VP Suhair (NorthEast United FC)
VP Suhair has been instrumental in NorthEast United’s successful qualification to the playoffs this season. The forward scored only twice and assisted a solitary goal in 17 appearances. However, his overall performances speak volumes of his quality as a player. Suhair’s work-rate has been critical to the Highlanders’ style of play. He has attempted 3.47 tackles on an average in each game and also made 1.1 interceptions along with 1.23 blocks every 90 minutes.
The 28-year-old’s tenacious approach towards the game stands out amidst the creativity that the likes of Federico Gallego, Luis Machado and Deshorn Brown bring to the table. It could be argued that Suhair probably missed out on the national team spot due to an inferior goal-scoring record when compared to that of Ishan Pandita, Manvir Singh, Bipin Singh etc. However, his comprehensive qualities and overall productivity could have added a unique element to the Blue Tigers’ arsenal of forwards.
2. Rochharzela (NorthEast United FC)
Rochharzela’s addition to the Highlanders’ squad from Aizawl FC had created a lot of excitement among the ardent Indian football followers. The midfielder later shot to fame by scoring a goal in the fourth minute against Bengaluru FC in early December. He has pockets of energy up his sleeve and is a force to reckon with at the centre of the park.
The 22-year-old has scored once and assisted twice in merely 427 minutes across 12 matches that he has played this season. He also made eight crosses but his most terrific quality is his ability to break up play in the midfield.
Rochharzela has made 6.54 tackles on an average every 90 minutes. Along with his his decent goal-contributions – the midfielder looks like a complete package who will only improve in the coming times. A stint with the national team could have further enhanced his development process.
1. Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Odisha FC)
Out of all the picks, Jerry Mawihmingthanga’s non-selection was the most appalling one. For starters, he has been the top-placed Indian in terms of assists in this ISL campaign. The 23-year-old has scored two goals and set up five others in 17 appearances this season. The forward has been critical in controlling the tempo of the game from the centre of the park. He made 32.41 passes per game and has made 2.64 tackles every 90 minutes.
All this considered, Jerry was one of the topmost Indian performers in the league without a shadow of doubt. His creativity, energy and goal-scoring ability along with consistent performances in a largely underperforming team deserve every bit of praise and appreciation. However, Igor Stimac’s refusal to take him onboard for the upcoming international friendlies surely attracts some scrutiny and debate.