These players have upped their game in the ongoing season and have proved their case for a recall to the Blue Tigers’ setup.
This season of the Indian Super League has seen a lot of young Indian players knocking on the door of the Indian national team with their stellar performances. However, amidst the fresh crop, there are a few old guards who have proven their mettle yet again and have also shown that they deserve another shot at the national team.
While youngsters might be the future of the new India that Igor Stimac has envisioned, without the correct blend of youth and experience, the Blue Tigers will never become as formidable as the supporters want them to be. A handful of players have shown that they can still be very good picks for the national team, all they need now is a shot at redemption.
The three players who can make a comeback into the Indian national team are:
3. Narayan Das
The former Tata Football Academy graduate has been in the Indian football scene for almost a decade. Despite being just 27, Narayan Das is a veteran of the game. His addition to SC East Bengal, who made their Indian Super League debut this season, has been a perfect homecoming. While the Red and Gold were far from being the best defensive side in the league, Narayan on the left has shown that he still has it in him to don the Indian national team jersey.
The former Odisha FC left-back has registered 23 interceptions and is the second-highest in his team, along with 35 tackles and 30 blocks. He has a passing accuracy of 62%, which is decent as he mostly plays progressive passes to move the ball up the field. One area where Das was not great was the attacking side of things. But, this season under Robbie Fowler, he has shown that he can move up and down the field tirelessly and also whip in crosses from wide areas. While there may be a lot of youngsters coming through the ranks, especially in the full-back positions, Igor Stimac will need some experience to complement the youth.
2. Jackichand Singh
Jackichand Singh’s days of living in the shadow of Udanta Singh are over. The Manipuri winger has shown enough mettle to earn a spot back in the Indian national team. He was immense under Sergio Lobera at FC Goa. Even during his short stint with Jamshedpur FC, Jackichand was impressive. Later, Owen Coyle slotted him in behind Nerijus Valskis as a No.10, as the Men of Steel had many injuries to deal with. Despite playing out of position, the 28-year-old put in excellent performances by creating chances and also setting up others in the final third.
The former Royal Wahingdoh man did not settle at Mumbai City, but has done enough to earn a national team call in his loan spell at Jamshedpur. Jackichand can be a unique wide playmaker for Stimac and his ability to glide past defenders also makes him a huge threat on either flank.
1. Halicharan Narzary
Undoubtedly the most improved player this season, Halicharan Narzary has proven that it is never too late to add a feather to your cap. The Assam-born winger was one of the regulars in the Indian national team during Stephen Constantine’s era. While a lot of supporters criticized him for being wasteful and not offering much in attack, Constantine liked him mainly because of his tireless work-rate. Narzary has always been reliable and never misses an opportunity to track back to help out the defenders.
However this season, he has added a whole new dimension to his game. He has worked hard on his finishing and therefore, we have seen the 26-year-old notch up four goals this season for Hyderabad FC. Along with the goals, Narzary has also mustered 47 tackles, 33 interceptions and 30 blocks till now. Taking that into consideration, Stimac can use his all-round skills to good effect with the national team.