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ISL Media/ I-League Media

5 players who could replace Anas Edathodika in the Indian national team

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The experienced defender announced his retirement from the international stage following India's exit from the AFC Asian Cup.

The aftermath of India's defeat against Bahrain continued with coach Stephen Constantine's resignation, followed by Anas Edathodika who announced his retirement from international football. Having only featured for the Blue Tigers 19 times, Edathodika was a late bloomer and got his first international cap in 2016 when he was 29 years old.

However injuries have been a part of his journey and despite all odds, the defender climbed up the ladder quickly beside fellow teammate Sandesh Jhingan. It is a shame that the telepathic communication and the camaraderie between the two will not be witnessed in a national team jersey anymore. 

Here at Khel Now we take a look at five young defenders who have the potential to replace the now retired centre-back in the Indian team:

5. Gaurav Bora (Chennai City FC)

Starting with a young and raw 20-year old defender who has forced Indian football fans to take notice. Bora hails from the Bhaichung Bhutia Football School and has also plied his trade in the Pune City youth team before joining Chennai City FC. Head coach Akbar Nawas should get a lot of credit for most of the good work, as it is because of him that the youngster has improved so much. Bora has played a pivotal role in the Chennai City defence as the southerners are currently table-toppers in the I-League.

Bora (left) has been a standout performer for Chennai City in the I-League this season

Bora is still young and raw and is indecisive on the ball, but with time he has got control over his nerves and has developed the technique to play it out from the back. Partnering Spanish defender Roberto Eslava in the heart of Chennai City's backline, the youngster has grown in stature as the matches have gone by. Being only 20, Bora can definitely be a worthy contender to fill the boots of Anas at least in the future.

4. Jitendra Singh (Indian Arrows)



Jitendra (middle) has impressed with the Arrows in multiple occassions this season

Hailing from the much-lauded Indian Arrows setup, Jitendra is the youngest defender on the list. He was one of the youngest members of the Indian side which featured in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. At 17, he holds an incredible amount of talent and maturity in his play. He has the ability to keep the ball at his feet and play out from the back and has great communication with his fellow defender Anwar Ali. The defender is from West Bengal and learnt his trade at Kolkata's United SC academy before he was scouted by the AIFF.

Jitendra caught all the headlines as he scored a goal against Shillong Lajong last season and became the youngest player ever to score in the I-League back then. He's always confident on the ball and calm and composed off it.

3. Chinglensana Singh (FC Goa)

Singh has impressed under Sergio Lobera's guidance for FC Goa

Hailing from the Manipur, the young defender has taken long and forward strides. Chinglensana Singh had his breakthrough season with the Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League back in 2016. However, now the 22-year old plies his trade for FC Goa. Chinglensana is known for his versatility and his ability to play as a right-back despite primarily being a centre-back, makes him a good utility player. Know for his pace and tackling, the man from Shillong has a prowess for breaking up play in the final third by making crucial interceptions.

The 22-year old has partnered Moroccan defender Mourtada Fall and has been pretty impressive this season. He has definitely emerged as a young prospect and with further nurturing and improvement to his game, he could emerge as a contender for the national team.


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2. Anwar Ali (Indian Arrows)

Probably the county's brightest defensive prospect at the moment, Anwar Ali hails from the Indian Arrows setup and also played a pivotal role in the FIFA U-17 World Cup for India. Originally from Punjab, the youngster started his career at the Minerva Football Academy and was then scouted by the AIFF. The 18-year old has played for India through the age groups and it was with his free-kick goal that India made history by beating Argentina in the U-19 COTIF Cup.

Anwar is has impressed with the Indian Arrows this season

Calm and composed on the ball and a mature head on his shoulders, Ali has everything you need in a young defender. He's also great in aerial duels and has a unique knack of banging in goals from close range set-pieces. He is definitely one for the future and with Anas leaving his big boots to fill, this might be his moment to get into the senior team.

1. Salam Ranjan Singh (East Bengal)

Salam Ranjan was part of India's AFC Asian Cup squad in January

The Manipuri defender is the most experienced pick of all in this list and has featured for a lot of teams in the ISL and I-League. currently plying his trade at East Bengal, the 23-year old was also a part of India's Asian Cup squad and played the final group game against Bahrain, when Anas was ruled out after the opening exchanges. Salam is known for his old school style of defending, involving no-nonsense tackles and the defender never shies away from an aerial duel considering his physical stature.

Former Indian coach Constantine was impressed with the 23-year-old as kept him as the backup to Jhingan and Edathodika, despite starting only once for East Bengal. Salam probably holds the strongest bid to replace Anas in the national team. 

Published: Mon Jan 21, 2019 05:41 PM IST

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