The Indian national football team is set to play a friendly against the I-League stars on May 17. The encounter is one of the three preparatory friendlies that the Blue Tigers are supposed to play ahead of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers. While the lineup for the exhibition match is yet to be announced, we at The Bridge have our take on the players who should be fielded.
Some exceptionally talented players have come up on the radar during their ongoing stint at I-League and with the presence of coach Igor Stimac, they will be looking forward to drawing the national team coach’s attention.
Bhaskar Roy (Goalkeeper, Rajasthan United FC): The Rajasthan United FC custodian has had an impressive stint with the debutants. Roy has kept the most number of clean sheets in the campaign so far and has made more than 50 crucial saves for the team.
Bhaskar Roy (Source: Voice of Indian Football)
Md Abdul Salam (Defender, Neroca FC): The 22-year-old has played an integral role in Neroca FC’s defence with his on-time clearances. He has conceded only 1.02 goals per 90 minutes, making him one of the most competent Indian defenders in the league so far.
Alex Saji (Defender, Gokulam Kerala): Despite appearing in just six games, the 21-year-old has established himself to be one of the best defenders in the league, and could be a bright spot in the upcoming time. Conceding only 0.22 goals per 90 minutes, Saji made a better ratio than most of the defenders of the ongoing season. He is a part of Gokulam’s record unbeaten run for 18 games in the I-League.
Asheer Akhtar (Defender, Mohammedan SC): Asheer Akhtar’s speciality lies in his versatility. Playing as a defender he has a conceding rate of only 0.94 goals keeping 3 clean sheets as well. He has been a star for the Black and white brigade.
Muhammed Uvais (Defender, Gokulam Kerala): Keeping five clean sheets in 13 games, conceding only 8, Muhammad Uvais has cemented his position in the I-League team of the campaign. The defender’s consistency has been one of the principal reasons for Gokulam Kerala’s stability in the defence.
Jiteshwor Singh (Midfielder, Neroca FC): The young midfielder has been impressive in the campaign so far and has played an important role in Neroca’s game. Glimpses of his play-making abilities can be seen through the passes he delivers tearing apart opponent defenders. Despite providing only one assist so far, Jiteshwor has proved that he is one of the best midfielders in the I-League.
Phalguni Singh (Midfielder, Sreenidi Deccan): Debutants Sreenidi Deccan have so far had an impressive first season in the I-League and 27-year-old Phalguni has been at the heart of the Sreenidi midfield, providing crucial passes to the forwards.
Jithin MS (Midfielder, Gokulam Kerala): With 4 goals and 2 assists to his name, the 24-year-old has been one of the best performers for Gokulam Kerala. He has proved to be the driving force behind their attacking prowess with his penetrating passes inside the opponent’s box.
Parthib Gogoi (Forward, Indian Arrows): The 19-year-old from Assam is the skipper of the Indian Arrows, a setup of the initiative taken by AIFF to promote football at lower age levels. Despite the team falling short in the competition, Parthib Gogoi has attracted a lot of interest. The forward has been involved in four goals so far in the tournament.
Sheikh Faiaz (Forward, Mohammedan SC): Sheikh Faiaz has been one of the most promising Indian players to have impressed this season playing for Mohammedan SC. He has scored three goals and provided two assists. His dribbling prowess has kept the defenders on their toes.
Faisal Ali (Forward, Mohammedan SC): Despite scoring only three goals so far this season, Faisal Ali has garnered plenty of interest from the top-tier Indian Super League clubs. Pairing along with Nikola Stojanovic, Faisal had one of his most impressive seasons so far.
Rakshit Dagar (Gokulam Kerala FC), Lalthakima Ralte (Aizwal FC), Wayne Vaz (Mohammedan SC), Gurmukh Singh (Rajasthan United FC), Manoj Mohammed (Mohammedan SC), Kingslee Fernandes (Churchill Brothers FC), Maheson Singh (RoundGlass Punjab FC), Ricky Shabong(Rajasthan United FC), Emil Benny (Gokulam Kerala), Brandon Vanlalremdika (Mohammedan SC), Sweden Fernandes (Neroca FC).