The 24-year-old Mizo Winger topped the charts for most assists among Indian players in ISL 2020-21.

The 2020-21 edition of the Indian Super League has successfully concluded, with Mumbai City FC lifting both the League Winners’ Shield and the title. The Islanders topped the table at the end of the league stage, before knocking out FC Goa in the semi-finals and beating ATK Mohun Bagan in the final. But, all of those are things of the past now, with each club extremely eager to right their wrongs and return with renewed vigour in the forthcoming 2021-22 season.

With the summer transfer window opening soon, clubs have already started carrying out tactivity. As always, most of the attention is on free agents (players out of contract) who are available to sign for any club without the shackles of transfer fees. One of the most important and sought-after free agent this summer is Jerry Mawihmingthanga, who is at the end of his term with Odisha FC.

Mawihmingthanga is only 24-years-old, but he is already one of the Indian football stars whose performances have been keenly followed by most ISL teams. Many clubs are understood to be keen on securing his services ahead of the new season, but what makes the Mizo youngster so special?

Odisha FC had an extremely underwhelming campaign in ISL 2020-21. The team from Bhubaneswar won just two out of their 20 league matches, while drawing six times and conceding defeat in the remaining 12 games. Having collected just 12 points and having conceded 44 goals in those 20 games, it is safe to say that the Juggernauts produced one of the worst displays by any club in the history of the league.

The Season

However, every cloud has a silver-lining. Odisha’s this season was the individual performances of some of their young players. The Juggernauts had a few who consistently rose to the occasion throughout the course of their campaign, but none of them would be more significant than Jerry Mawihmingthanga.

He clocked 1396 minutes across 17 games in ISL 2020-21 and scored a brace in his final league game, the 6-5 win against SC East Bengal. More importantly, he also recorded five assists – the most by any Indian player this season. The forward was also crucial in controlling the tempo of the game from the middle of the park, having made 32.41 passes and 2.64 tackles every 90 minutes. He had similar numbers in 2019-20 as well, which means that he was able to carry forward his good form, despite the team’s poor results on the pitch.

His Journey

It is also worth noting that he just turned 24, but one will find it hard to believe that, given his experience in India’s top flight. A DSK Shivajians Academy youth product, Jerry Mawihmingthanga made his ISL debut in 2016 with NorthEast United. The following season, he joined Jamshedpur FC and truly burst onto the scene with them, scoring a goal and providing three assists in 16 appearances. The move to Odisha FC ahead of the 2019-20 season further elevated his quality, as understood by his four goals and ten assists in 34 matches with them.

Overall, Mawihmingthanga has five goals and 14 assists to his name in the ISL to date. The 14 assists he has made in the league is the most by any Indian in the league’s history and he has taken only 67 games to get there. FC Goa’s Jackichand Singh is at first place on this list and he has 18 assists.

Following his performances in the 2020-21 season, many fans expected that the speedy winger would get a place in head coach Igor Stimac’s list for the ongoing senior Indian Football Team friendlies in Dubai. The 53-year-old, however, shockingly chose to omit him. The decision has been widely debated by Indian football fans and pundits over the past few weeks, as Mawihmingthanga’s creativity, energy and goalscoring ability would have added another dimension to the squad.

What Next?

“Everyone dreams of representing the country,” the player had told Khel Now in an exclusive interview last year. “I already have the experience of playing with India’s U-19 and U-23 sides and that has given me a lot of exposure, especially to foreign players and conditions. It has helped me become more mature as a player. So, let us hope that I will soon become one of the best footballers in our country and get a chance to wear our national colours,” he had added.

Well, “Everything comes to him who waits,” goes a popular saying. Having already proved that he is worthy of a national team call-up, it definitely will not be long before we see Jerry Mawihmingthanga in national colours. Meanwhile, with his time at Odisha FC coming to an end as well, he is one of the most valuable free agents in the country. It will be interesting to see how many ISL teams are in the race to sign him.

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