The fourth season of the Indian Super League (ISL 2017/18) has now entered its business end, with teams vying to qualify for the semi-finals next month. Sunil Chhetri’s Bengaluru FC, on Friday (February 9), became the first team to to do so after beating FC Goa at their home.
Bengaluru FC, FC Pune City, Chennaiyin FC, FC Goa or Jamshedpur FC – Among all the teams that have done well this season, it has been a common trend that along with their experienced players, the younger lot has been equally good and have even shone brighter at times.
With about a third of the current ISL 2017/18 season yet to be played and injuries kicking in, the youngsters are bound to get more opportunities in the coming days and make a name for themselves.
Here, we list down five young players who have been the most impressive in ISL 2017/18 so far:
1. Lallianzuala Chhangte (Delhi Dynamos)
After being chosen to be a part of I-League club DSK Shivajians’ Liverpool International Football Academy in 2014, there has been no looking back for Lallianzuala Chhangte. The 20-year-old forward, Chhangte, started the current ISL 2017/18 season with a bang, scoring and assisting a goal in Delhi’s season opener against FC Pune City.
The Mizoram-boy has tailed off a bit after that but has still been one of the bright lights for the Delhi Dynamos in what has generally been a disappointing season for them. Chhangte has attempted 13 shots, delivered 27 crosses and played 360 passes in ISL season 4 so far.
2. Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Jamshedpur FC)
Like Chhangte, Jerry Mawihmingthanga was also born in Mizoram and started his career with the DSK Shivajians Academy. In March 2016, he was also selected in an exchange program to go and train with Liverpool FC in England. After playing for NorthEast United in ISL 3, Jerry was picked up by ISL newcomers Jamshedpur FC ahead of the current ISL 2017/18 season and has been a consistent performer for Steve Coppell’s side.
Jerry has contributed 1 goal and 3 assists in ISL 2017/18 and has played an average 34 passes per game. The 20-year-old also averages more than 1 shot for every 90 minutes played in the current campaign for Jamshedpur FC.
3. Vishal Kaith (FC Pune City)
The 21-year-old goalkeeper has been an ever present force in between the sticks for FC Pune City, a team that is currently 2nd in the ISL 2017/18 table. Kaith has been rock in goal for Shillong Lajong in the I-League over the last few seasons and has carried his form over to the ISL in the current campaign. It is majorly down to Kaith’s dynamic goalkeeping skills that FC Pune City have kept 5 clean sheets in ISL 2017/18, the second-highest in the league.
The promising young keeper is also good with his feet and has played 168 passes in the current campaign. One of the top young performers of ISL 2017/18.
4. Vinit Rai (Delhi Dynamos)
TheISL 2017/18 season has been a rather underwhelming campaign for Delhi Dynamos but if you have to pick out a positive spark from among the ruins, it has to be 20-year-old midfielder Vinit Rai’s performances. The young Assamese player made a couple of appearances for Kerala Blasters last season and has taken his chance to shine in Delhi in ISL 4.
Vinit has played 555 passes in 9 matches for the Dynamos so far and averages a staggering 61.67 passes per game, with a passing accuracy of over 85%. A solid first full campaign for the young midfield maestro.
5. Jerry Lalrinzuala (Chennaiyin FC)
At just 19 years of age, Jerry Lalrinzuala is one of the most experienced young players in the ISL 2017/18 season and has been an ever present force at left-back for Chennaiyin FC, having played every single minute for the 2015 champions. The Mizoram youngster has made 25 tackles, 15 interceptions, 16 clearances and 12 blocks in the current campaign.
Lalrinzuala, who has already made his senior debut for India, has also assisted 2 goals for his team, to go with his 565 passes and 26 crosses. A key cog in Chennaiyin FC’s rise to the top tiers of ISL table this season.