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One year from FIFA U-17 World Cup, where are the Indian starlets now?

Written by: Punit Tripathi

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Although the Blue Colts failed to win any of their matches, there were a number of youngsters who impressed onlookers.

On October 12 last year, India were facing Ghana in their final group A game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi, in India’s first participation at a FIFA event. India hosted the tournament and had lost 3-0 to the United States in their opening encounter on October 6.

On the 9th, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam scored the historic goal from a Sanjeev Stalin corner, sending the audience into a frenzy. It was recorded as India’s first goal at a World Cup, and will be etched with the name of the Manipuri lad forever. Jeakson, when asked about the same, had said, “It was a great feeling, but I would like to play in another World Cup. It’s a different feeling altogether.”

The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 saw a massive support in the country

While that may or may not be possible at the moment, we take a look at the lads that walked out on the pitch during the tournament wearing Indian colors.

As star goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem moved to ISL franchise Kerala Blasters after trials at Motherwell and AFC Bournemouth. According to reports, Dheeraj had offers from both clubs, but could not get a work permit due to issues with non-European ranking rules.

His understudy, Prabhsukhan Gill, has since then, grown in size and stature under the bar for India U-19 side and is expected to walk out with the Indian Arrows team in the upcoming I-league season. Third choice custodian Sunny Dhaliwal returned to Canada to continue his studies and pursue a career there.

The defence, mostly, remains with Indian Arrows and form the crux of India U-19 at the moment. Intermingling with seniors, the lads have shown enough sturdiness as well as maturity to balance it well. Sanjeev Stalin, Anwar Ali, Jitendra Singh and Boris Singh Thangjam have all grown in stature. Ali and a few other have managed to attract contracts from ISL clubs, but will remain at the Arrows on loan for development for the upcoming season.


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The midfield, too, looks pretty same. Amarjit Singh Kiyam has continued his calm, Michael Carrick-like football style, well complementing the hand-brawn style displayed by his long-time partner Suresh Singh Wangjam.

Jeakson Singh (Kerala Blasters), Lalengmawia, Nongdamba Naorem and Abhijit Sarkar (Chennaiyin FC) have all stayed with the AIFF Pilot Project, but have time and again been asked about in footballing circles. Midfielder Mohd. Shahjahan returned to parent club Minerva Punjab, and is hoping for chances during the upcoming I-league season.

The forward list, too, remains the same, mostly. Aniket Jadhav, KP Rahul, Rahim Ali and Ninthoi Meetei will all feature for the Arrows next season. Komal Thatal, meanwhile, is currently playing the ISL for two-time champions ATK from Kolkata. Chennaiyin FC have bought forwards Rahim Ali and Abhijit Sarkar on three-year deals, but both players will continue to don the Arrows' jersey.  

Most players featured in India U-19’s global journey, during which the infamous 2-1 victory over Argentina, that played its first side, took place. This shows that under Floyd Pinto, the team is in good hands and can be expected to impress in the upcoming season of the I-league, after ending last on the table last year.

The team, alongwith its players, has developed inclusively and fans can expect them to outsmart some opponents during the season. While the core of the Arrows is expected to remain the same, U-20 players like Deepak Tangri (who was also lapped up by Chennaiyin FC), defender Narender Gahlot and Abhishek Halder are expected to play for the Arrows as well. 

Published: Thu Oct 11, 2018 01:43 PM IST

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