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Indian Football Team

Top five players who performed in ISL but were neglected by Igor Stimac

Published at :June 19, 2024 at 5:12 PM
Modified at :June 19, 2024 at 5:12 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL media)

Bishal Deb


Igor Stimac did not give many opportunities to key players who performed well in ISL.

Igor Stimac’s tenure as the head coach of the Indian football team ended after a series of disappointing results and failing to qualify for the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Stimac took charge in 2019 and since then had been struggling with inconsistent performances.

His stint saw many new players get opportunities but several standout performers were consistently overlooked. Despite his efforts to improve the team’s tactics and other aspects of the game, the national squad fell short in crucial matches.

Here, we highlight five such players who, despite their impressive performances in the Indian Super League (ISL) didn’t get much game-time in Stimac’s tenure.

5. Jerry Mawihmingthanga

Jerry Mawihmingthanga is one of the most consistent performers in the ISL. He featured in 17 games and clocked 983 minutes in the 2023-24 ISL season.

Known for his effectiveness on the wings, Jerry has been a reliable player in the ISL throughout the years. However, despite his regular performances, he never got the chance to represent the Indian football team under Igor Stimac.

4. Mohammed Yasir 

Technically gifted and known for his playmaking abilities, Mohammed Yasir didn’t receive many opportunities in Stimac’s reign. Yasir has been one of the top performers for Hyderabad FC in the past couple of seasons.

But, when it comes to the national team, he has only 13 appearances, most notably impressing at the 2021 SAFF Championship.

3. Puitea

Puitea has been a standout performer in midfield for Odisha FC. His consistent displays, particularly alongside Ahmed Jahouh, played a crucial role in Odisha’s successful season, where they finished fourth and had a decent run in the AFC Cup.

Despite his vital contributions and consistent performances, Puitea was repeatedly ignored by Stimac for national team duties.

2. Asish Rai

Asish Rai’s impressive displays on the right flank made him a standout performer in the ISL. He featured in 18 matches in the 2020-21 ISL campaign and also racked up two assists in the process.

His former coach, Manolo Marquez, hailed him as “the most improved player” of that season. Even after joining Mohun Bagan and continuing to perform decently, Rai was only called-up once to the national team for the King’s Cup in Thailand. 

1. Vishal Kaith

Vishal Kaith has established himself as one of the finest goalkeepers on the Indian football circuit. Since joining Mohun Bagan in 2022, his shot-stopping and commanding presence in the box have been key factors in their success.

Kaith’s heroics were evident as he bagged the Golden Glove awards in both the 2022-23 ISL season (with a staggering 12 clean-sheets) and the Durand Cup 2024. Despite his consistent brilliance in the ISL, Kaith remained on the sidelines for the national team under Stimac.

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