At least 92 footballers from Northeast states will be playing in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season, which begins from November 20 in Goa. Among these, 43 are from Manipur, 30 are from Mizoram, 10 are from Assam, five from Meghalaya and two from Sikkim.
In NorthEast United FC, the ISL club based in Guwahati, there are 11 players from the Northeast states.
Here, The News Mill tries to pick 15 emerging players from the Northeast who can be future prospect for the country.
1. Dheeraj Singh of ATK Mohun Bagan
Dheeraj Singh, from Manipur, is undoubtedly one of the best emerging custodians in the country at the moment. He was part of India’s squad for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and was one of the standout performers for India at the tournament. Following that, Dheeraj had some stellar showings for Indian Arrows in I-League 2017-18.
Dheeraj also had a trial at Scottish club Motherwell FC and trained with AFC Bournemouth before signing for Kerala Blasters FC leading up to the 2018-19 season of ISL. He played 13 matches for the team, keeping four clean sheets.
2. Amarjit Singh of Jamshedpur FC
Nineteen-year-old Amarjit Singh from Manipur, is a sensational midfielder who rose into prominence after captaining the India U-17 team in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
After the World Cup in 2017, he was selected to play for the Indian Arrows in I-League 2017-18. A productive campaign earned him a contract with Jamshedpur FC but the youngster was sent back to Arrows on loan to further his development. He impressed in I-League 2018-19 and played an integral part in the Arrows’ win over Kerala Blasters FC in Super Cup 2019, scoring a brace.
Amarjit Singh was then handed his senior debut with the Indian national team by head coach Igor Stimac during the 2019 King’s Cup.
3. Ninthoinganba Meetei of NorthEast United FC
Ninthoi, as known fondly, first drew attention when he was picked for the India U-17 squad for the 2017 FIFA World Cup. NorthEast United signed the Manipur midfielder following a brilliant 2018-19 campaign for the Indian Arrows in the I-League. He played 15 I-League matches for the Arrows and scored twice. Ninthoi was also part of the Arrows’ Super Cup 2019 squad and played both matches.
Ninthoi had a formidable Indian Super League debut with NorthEast United FC, making 11 appearances and averaging 18 passes a game. Retained ahead of the 2020-21 season, he will look to play a telling role for the Highlanders.
4. Mohammed Yasir of Hyderabad FC
The 22-year-old defensive-midfielder has shown promise from a very young age as he helped Manipur clinch the national school games in 2014. After his stint with FC Pune, Mohammed Yasir established himself as a regular in the Hyderabad FC setup during the 2019-20 season, making 15 appearances and scoring one goal as well. After signing a three-year contract extension, he will look to continue his long-term development at the club.
5. Udanta Singh of Bengaluru FC
The 24-year-old right winger joined the reputed Tata Football Academy in his early teens in 2010. Making his international debut for India U-19 in the 2014 AFC qualifiers, Udanta Singh was roped in by Bengaluru FC in 2014. He was also in great form during the team’s title-winning run, contributing five goals and three assists. After signing a contract extension with the club, Udanta will look to establish himself as a bigger name for the club in the days to come.
6. Jerry Lalrinzuala of Chennaiyin FC
Jerry has been a part of the All India Football Federation’s Elite Academy and also had a stint of training with FC Metz in France. The Left Back from Mizoram made his Indian Super League debut in 2016 with Chennaiyin FC and scored a superb free kick against FC Goa to become the youngest player to score in ISL for Chennaiyin FC. Jerry was awarded as the ‘Emerging Player’ of ISL 2016 after his superb performances.
The 22-year-old Left Back was also an impact player for Chennaiyin FC on the road to their title in 2017-18. In 14 matches, he bagged two assists, and after signing a contract extension with the club, he will look to make a name among the great Indian defenders in the years to come.
7. Rochharzela of NorthEast United FC
Rochharzela is an Aizawl FC academy product and made his senior team debut in the 2017-18 season. The 22-year-old midfielder from Mizoram grew in stature and established a first-team role over two seasons. He scored six goals from 14 starts and clocked more than 1,000 minutes for the first time in his career in the 2019-20 season.
8. Mohammad Nawaz of FC Goa
Mohammad Nawaz had a breakthrough season in 2018-19, where he played a big role in the FC Goa side which reached the ISL final. After missing the latter stages of the 2018-19 season due to an injury, the 2019-20 campaign saw Nawaz come back strong to feature in all the matches for FC Goa, keeping five clean sheets for the Gaurs in their run to the top of the ISL table.
He was a member of the Indian team that took part in the 2016 BRICS U-17 tournament. The young goalkeeper from Manipur will look to retain his spot in the 2020-21 season as well.
9. Jeakson Singh of Kerala Blasters FC
Yet another bright prospect from Manipur, 19-year-old Jeakson Singh too represented the Indian team in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. He created history after scoring India’s only goal of the tournament in a group match against Colombia.
The former Minerva Punjab FC youth player joined Indian Arrows on loan during I-League 2017-18 and represented them in the 2018-19 season as well. The midfielder made his Indian Super League debut in the 2019-20 season with Kerala Blasters FC and played 13 matches for his team.
10. Suresh Singh Wangjam of Bengaluru FC
The 20-year-old midfielder began his career with the Bir Chandra Memorial Sports Club in Manipur and became a part of the Indian Arrows outfit in 2017.
Suresh Singh Wangjam played 29 matches for his team over two seasons in the I-League. Suresh also represented the India U-17 team in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. He was called up to the national team camp after his strong performances for Bengaluru FC and will look to add to those appearances in the 2020-21 edition of the league.
11. Nongdamba Naorem of Kerala Blasters FC
Nongdamba was an integral part of the India U-17 squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. Known for his excellent dribbling abilities, Nongdamba made his professional debut with Minerva Punjab FC, before spending the 2017-18 season on loan at Indian Arrows.
The Manipur footballer joined Kerala Blasters during the 2018-19 season and spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Mohun Bagan AC, making 16 appearances for his club while scoring two goals and assisting five as the club went on to win the I-League trophy. Nongdamba will look to make his ISL debut with Kerala Blasters FC in the 2020-21 season.
12. Salam Ranjan Singh of ATK Mohun Bagan
After an impressive spell at Pune FC, the 24-year-old defender from Manipur joined Bengaluru FC but wasn’t able to garner much game time for the Blues in his first stint. The 6.3 feet had a short stint with the Highlanders in the ISL 2016 campaign, following which he returned to Bengaluru and helped them win the I-League 2015-16 trophy. Salam Ranjan Singh joined East Bengal in 2017 and was with the Kolkata giants for two seasons before signing for ATK ahead of ISL 2019-20.
13. Phrangki Buam of FC Goa
Phrangki started his career with Royal Wahingdoh in Meghalaya, appearing for their U-16 and U-18 sides. He moved to Shillong Lajong and helped the side win the U-18 Youth League in 2018.
Making his senior debut on the national stage in the 2018/19 season of the I-League, Phrangki Buam scored six goals for Shillong Lajong, making him the third-highest Indian goal scorer in the league and the highest for the club.
During the 2019-20 season, Buam went on to lead Shillong Lajong to the Shillong Premier League and Meghalaya State League, top-scoring for his side. The 19-year-old midfielder from Meghalaya will look forward to continue the good work.
14. Daniel Lalhlimpuia of Odisha FC
Having risen through the ranks at the Chandigarh Football Academy and the AIFF Elite Academy, Daniel’s major break came in 2015 when he signed for Bengaluru FC. He was part of the Bengaluru FC squad which reached the AFC Cup 2016 final.
The 23-year-old forward from Mizoram made his senior India debut in 2016.
15. Rakesh Pradhan of Northeast United FC
Rakesh Pradhan is a product of Shillong Lajong FC’s youth academy. The 23-year-old defender from Assam made 15 appearances in his debut ISL campaign with NorthEast United FC, scalping one assist. Solid at the back and potent at making overlapping runs, Rakesh Pradhan can also contribute going forward and was retained by the club ahead of the 2020-21 ISL season.