In the modern day football, the pace is a valuable asset which players try to hone. Especially the wingers who can latch on to almost any decent ball, beating the full backs in a chase for it, and attempt to feed the perfect cross for the hungry strikers.
It is known that, younger the age, more of the energy you possess which is necessary to run yards together throughout the 90 minutes. Similar is the composition of Indian XI with this unique line-up’s average age being just 21 years with 4-4-2 formation.
Goalkeeper | Nawaz
After failing to make a cut to the FIFA U-17 world cup squad, the Manipuri keeper found his maiden ISL start in the colours of FC Goa, who went on to finish as runners up. On his debut, he was penalised for handling the ball outside of the penalty area and was later on criticised. He answered the critiques by playing 13 games in that season, conceding 32% of the total shots he faced. Nawaz had a decent season otherwise jeopardized due to an injury where he lost his spot to Naveen Kumar as first choice goalkeeper. Later that season, Nawaz acted as a sweeper keeper under Lobera’s tactics which saw them top the table and claim the ACL spot. Nawaz can distribute the ball quickly so that the momentum of his team keeps up.
Full backs | Prabir Das & Ashique Kuruniyan
Prabir Das needs little to no introduction of his performance in recently concluded season where his valuable involvement as a right wing back saw his team winning the ISL title for the 3rd time. He initially started as a right-back under Teddy Sheringham’s reign at ATK. But was later on converted as a right wing-back in last season by Antonio Habas. Doing the justice to his role, Prabir has good physicality and is able to feed in good crosses for the strikers by making good runs down the line. Him providing 5 assists – most by an Indian for ATK in previous season is an evidence to it.
Ashique Kuruniyan is primarily a right winger but has shown his defensive qualities as left back under coach Carles Cuadrat in the absence of well established left back – Nishu Kumar who is not pacy enough to find his spot in this line-up. Ashique is known for his dribbling quality and the fiery runs he makes with the only yet important downfall being his ability to cross, which made us shift him to the left back position.
Centre-backs | Aiban Dohling & Sumit Rathi
Apart from his vital long throw ins, Aibanbha Kupar Dohling has a great footwork and has an ability to link up the play and initiate attacks which makes the 24 year old to be placed as a centre back.
Another FIFA U-17 world cup squad member & a winner of ISL emerging player of the season award – Sumit Rathi has moved up ranks since 2017. He was part of Arrows squad, later joined ATK B in the next season and then finally made the cut into ATK’s main squad. Rathi stayed on the bench for ATK until an away game against Hyderabad FC, what followed later was the courageous performance which earned him emerging player of the season award, he can pair up with Aiban to form a good wall of defense for this pacy 11 initialising quick link up plays from their own half.
Midfielders | Udanta, Givson Singh, Thoiba Singh & Nongdamba Naorem.
Although Udanta had a forgettable season in his career, it’s undeniable that he was once called as one of the next big thing in Indian football because of his amazing runs down the right wing and his ability to provide a good pass to the forwards by cutting in and out through the defenders which earned him the tittle – The Flash. Though he seems to have faded in the previous season, he will be working harder to make a hopeful comeback. Don’t let the one bad season deceive you, he is just 23 and had scored 5 goals (Second most by an Indian with Chhangte) along with 3 assists in 2018/19 season.
Taking up the centre midfield role is Givson and Thoiba Singh. Givson Singh played all the games for Indian arrows in 2019/20 season. His capability of passing to create link up plays for forwards is attributed by his good work rate, which makes him as an apt choice for us picking him as the CM role in our lineup.
Accompanying Givson in the centre midfield will be Punjab FC’s Thoiba Singh Moirangthem, who was part of India U-16 squad along with Givson, that played AFC U-16 Championship in Malaysia. Thoiba, after scoring against Nepalese club – Manang Marshyangadi became youngest goal scorer in AFC Cup. He can play as defensive midfielder as well.
Nongdamba Naorem had a wonderful season for champions Mohun Bagan. He made foray down the left flank and had an excellent foot work, which helped him gain 5 assists and 2 goals for his club.
Strikers | Manvir Singh and Chhangte
Manvir has had a poor season scoring only twice with no assists, which is understandable when FC Goa had fiery men like Coro up front scoring goals for fun. Manvir usually came as substitute and rarely started for the league leaders, his quick play under robust FC Goa’s tactics makes him the choice as a striker. The young centre forward also has 11 caps for the national team. As a second striker, we had to include the Mizo – Lallianzuala Chhangte. He announced his arrival in ISL when he struck his first goal, clocking at a speed of 37 Kmph. He scored 7 times for the runners up – Chennaiyin FC and is second most goal scorer by an Indian in the last season, second to Sunil Chhetri(9) himself.
This concludes our “pacy XI’s lineup” with special mentions – Dheeraj, Imran Khan, Boris Singh, Jerry M, Bipin Singh, Rahul KP & Jitendra Singh finding themselves as substitutes.