The second-leg of the joint qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023, proved to be a challenging affair for the Blue Tigers, as they managed to seal the coveted third spot in the group behind Qatar and Oman. Despite the disappointment of not being able to win against Afghanistan in the last group game, there were certain players who stood out from the rest.
Read on to find out who were the top performers for the national team in this qualifying journey.
5. Chiglensana Singh –
For starters, the Manipuri center-back had a dream campaign with his club Hyderabad F.C. where he emerged as one of the most promising Indian players. This led to him being called up for the national team and it did not take long for the player to leave a mark, as he starred in both the games against Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In both the matches, he looked confident and comfortable on the ball and cleared his lines effectively. In addition to that, his pass distribution was also impressive. If Sana continues in the same vein his development, a quality ball playing defender could be on the cards of the national set-up for a long time.
4. Ashique Kuruniyan –
Ashique Kuruniyan has been earmarked for greatness for a very long time. The prodigal son who can also operate as a left back, was finally seen showing glimpses of his potential in the recently concluded qualifiers. However, the last 12 months have not been an easy ride for the footballer, as he had to deal with an injury and loss of form. Despite these hurdles, the Malayali winger had an encouraging outing, as he showcased his full array of talent and potential. He not only was effective, with his play on the wings but also, provided the crucial assist to Sunil Chhetri, who nodded home India’s first goal from open play in these qualifiers. Even against Afghanistan, where the entire team underwhelmed with their performances, it was Ashique who proved to be a solitary attacking outlet and made most of his chances whenever, he received the ball.
3. Glan Martins –
One Indian player who makes every Indian fan’s lineup in the current team other than few key players is Glan Martins. The defensive midfielder’s stock has risen exponentially, since his superlative performances caught an eye, during FC Goa’s maiden AFC Champions League expedition. The Goan born player has seamlessly transferred that form, in the Blue jersey of the national team with ease and made the midfield role his own. His proactiveness added with his ability to read the game make him a valuable asset.