Five Players Who Should be Called up For the Indian National Team
There was quite the collective sigh of relief when Indian drew Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and Macau in the qualifiers for AFC Asian Cup. Although the draw might not look as favorable as it seems to be on paper, it represents the best opportunity for India to qualify for the continental tournament.
One worrying aspect remains is the lack of game time Indian internationals have had with each other. They have not played a competitive game of football for the national team since September 2016, and though Cambodia friendly allows Stephen Constantine to test the waters, there is no doubt about the work to be done.
Since, the last Puerto Rico game, the landscape of football in India has changed quite a bit. With a whole season of the Indian Super League passing us by, there have been talents who have emerged onto the back pages. Here we look at five players who deserve a national team call up, and might be important for the national team if they want to qualify for the finals in 2019.
LALRAMCHULLOVA - AIZAWL FC
The ambidextrous fullback is a product of the Aizawl FC Academy, and has been around the first team since Manuel Retamero Fraile had taken over as the coach for the club. He made his debut last season against Mohun Bagan and has been a fixture in the side ever since.
Able to play left back and right back, the 21-year-old defender has been a revelation this season. He regularly gave Katsumi Yusa the slip playing at left back against Mohun Bagan, but his best game was against Nikhil Poojary who has been setting the League on fire for East Bengal.
He not only thwarted the right winger, but he was on the overlap from Brandon Vanlalremdika whenever he needed help. With Pritam Kotal and Narayan Das likely to be the first choice for the position, he might be a perfect back-up for both positions.
ANAS EDATHODIKA - MOHUN BAGAN
It is quite surprising that a 30-year-old defender, with the ability he has, doesn’t have a cap for the National Team. But, without putting the blame of Stephen Constantine (who apparently had him in mind for SAFF in 2015), this might be the best opportunity to bring in the central defender.
After a brilliant season with the Delhi Dynamos, he has continued his form with Mohun Bagan. Despite the Kolkata side having to chop and change at the back due to injuries, he has been the rock that their season has been build upon.
With first-choice central defenders in Arnab Mondal and Sandesh Jhingan having not played the number of games as they would have liked this season. The Kerala-born defender might be the trump card Stephen needed.
MILAN SINGH - DSK SHIVAJIANS
The 24-year-old defensive midfielder has been at the top of his game for a while, but has begun to get noticed finally. He improved immensely under the tutelage of Gianluca Zambrotta for the Delhi Dynamos at the right of a midfield three and was hands down one of the best midfielders in the League.
He re-signed for DSK Shivajians and has been silently making the mark in the I-League as well, in a much more withdrawn role, displaying his versatility for Dave Rodgers’ side. The Indian central midfield is probably the most difficult position to warm your way into with the likes of Rowllin Borges, Mehtab Hossain, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Pronay Halder all fighting for two positions.
But, Milan gives something different to the side, and with the form he has been in the last 4 or 5 months, he probably deserves a place over most.
JAYESH RANE - AIZAWL FC
Jayesh Rane has, according to me, been the best Indian player in the I-League this season. He has played in a host of positions for Aizawl FC throughout the season, left of a midfield three, behind the striker and a two man midfield, and he has stole the show on each occasion.
Quality on the ball, vision and the ability to find space between the lines, the 24-year-old has improved his game beyond thought. Even with the likes of Alfred Jaryan and Kamo Baye playing the way they are in the League, he has probably been their best player, and that tells its own story.
Stephen Constantine has played Sunil Chhetri in behind the striker, but India need a proper backup with similar qualities as the skipper, and Jayesh seems to be the man. He is also more than capable of playing on the left, a position that India appears to be short on at the moment.
It will be interesting to see where he plays if he gets selected, one thing is for sure; he deserves to get his cap.
JERRY LALRINZUALA - DSK SHIVAJIANS
A product of the AIFF Elite Academy, who has been part of the India Youth set up, Jerry was picked up by Chennaiyin FC for the Indian Super League 2016. The 18-year-old impressed coach Marco Materrazzi with his no-nonsense defending and ended up playing 13 matches.
The diminutive left back received four Emerging Player of the Match in his 13 appearance for the MS Dhoni co-owned team. The Emerging Player of the ISL 2016 was also bestowed on this young Mizo boy, who had a training stint at FC Metz before signing for the ISL side.
His good form continued at DSK Shivajians in the I-League, where he has been loaned. After his good performance at the club level, a call-up in the National Team, would be an icing on the cake for the 18-year-old.