The Indian Super League (ISL) is within touching distance. Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters take centre stage as we commence the ISL season on September 21. In this list, we look at some of the Indian firepower on display.
Below mentioned are up-and-coming talents, seasoned players with points to prove, and superstars who will look to replicate form from previous seasons. Whatever the case, this list includes exciting wingers and strikers, taking us through some of the best attackers to watch in the coming season.
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Lallianzuala Chhangte is likely to be considered the poster boy of Indian football once the great Sunil Chhetri calls it a day. After a brilliant 2022/23 season, the left-footed winger will look to record even greater numbers in the upcoming ISL campaign.
Since moving to Mumbai City FC in January 2022, he has managed 48 appearances, bagging 19 goals and 10 assists across all competitions. In the ISL alone, Chhangte recorded 10 goals and six assists from 22 appearances last year, helping his side to the league shield towards the end of the season.
Considered by many to be the most deadly winger in Indian football, Chhangte also has an incredible burst of pace. Today, the 26-year-old is a certain starter for Indian national team coach Igor Štimac. Therefore, expectations are certainly going to be high as far as Chhangte is concerned.
Not many lists go without mentioning the Bengaluru FC skipper, Sunil Chhetri. The 39-year-old striker is already a legend for the Blues and will be looking to have yet another successful campaign with his club.
Things didn’t quite go as planned for the former Mohun Bagan star, who was provided a role off the bench by BFC manager Simon Grayson in the second half of the season. Of his 21 appearances, nine saw the Indian footballing icon start on the bench.
It will be interesting to see whether Chhetri manages to find a spot in Grayson’s starting line-up this time. The departure of Roy Krishna could see the veteran striker start up top. However, BFC have brought in English number nine Curtis Main, who could start ahead of his Indian colleague.
Not many have burst onto the scene like East Bengal winger Mahesh Singh Naorem. The left-footed wide player is now a consistent starter for the Indian national team and his Kolkata-based club.
The 24-year-old winger was the shining light in an East Bengal team that failed to impress during the 2022/23 season. Last year, he finished with two goals and seven assists in 19 ISL appearances.
With Nandhakumar Sekar occupying the opposite wing and Cleiton Silva down the middle, expect entertaining action in the final third from this East Bengal team, who will be aiming for a top-six finish.
Nandhakumar Sekar is one of India’s brightest footballing talents today. The youngster broke through into the national team after having a successful ISL season last time out. The 27-year-old bagged 11 goals and three assists across all competition in the 2022/23 campaign.
Nandha will be looking to replicate his incredible form with new club, East Bengal. Having already played the Durand Cup this season, the winger will be settled in before the ISL begins.
He scored twice in the Durand Cup from six appearances to help his team reach the final of the tournament. However, it wasn’t to be, as the player’s new employers suffered a 1-0 defeat to rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant.
This 22-year-old youngster, Sivasakthi Narayanan, announced himself on the Indian football stage last season. He enjoyed a starting place in Simon Grayson’s BFC team towards the second half of the 2022/23 campaign.
Having made 21 appearances in the ISL, he scored six goals and provided three assists. The forward was quite effective in using his pace on the counter and ability to finish off chances.
The player has been used in wide positions as well as through the middle. It is likely that Siva could feature as a winger or play as a second striker to either Sunil Chhetri or Curtis Main this season. Whatever the case, the boy from Tamil Nadu has done enough to earn a place in Grayson’s side for the new season.
Manvir Singh will be looking to respond strongly after an underwhelming 2022/23 season. The lanky striker was recently called for India’s Kings Cup matches in Thailand against Iraq and Lebanon. Despite failing to get on the scoresheet, he received much-needed minutes ahead of the new ISL season.
Last time out, the Mohun Bagan Super Giant forward managed just two goals and four assists from 18 appearances in the ISL. He was pushed to a wide role, with Dimi Petratos playing down the middle.
Manvir’s position in the upcoming season could be under threat following the inclusion of Australian forward Jason Cummings. Should the Aussie be preferred as a second striker, Manvir’s involvement could be hampered this season.
A player to certainly observe in the upcoming season is Liston Colaco. The young attacker did not enjoy the best of ISL campaigns last year, scoring just one goal and providing four assists from 20 appearances.
A spot in the starting eleven for Colaco remains uncertain at the moment. With the inclusion of several foreign forwards, as previously mentioned, Manvir Singh’s and the 24-year-old’s roles are unclear.
However, if given the opportunity, Colaco will look to make an impact. Known for scoring quality goals, he will look to add to his first goal of the season, which he registered during the Durand Cup.
We’ve got yet another winger on this list, and this time, it’s Mumbai City FC’s Bipin Singh. A player who finds himself on the left flank for Des Buckingham possesses a good turn of pace and can be a handful for defenders.
He impressed last season, scoring eight goals and providing four assists from 32 appearances in all competitions. The 28-year-old also got a look in during his club’s Durand Cup run this year, where he managed two assists.
In a highly competitive Mumbai City FC squad, it will be important for Bipin to continue living up to the coach’s high standards.
Kerala Blasters winger Rahul KP has quite a bit to prove after a lacklustre performance in the ISL last season. Although quick, Rahul’s output for the Blasters during the 2022/23 campaign was sub-par.
He made 22 appearances across all competitions, bagging just three goals and two assists. A quick turnaround is something that the 23-year-old winger will be hoping for.
He was a part of the national team that travelled to Thailand for the King’s Cup and made two appearances off the bench for his country. Clearly, there is some way to go for Rahul to break in as a sure shot starter in the Indian national team, a feat that can be achieved with consistent performances at club level.
Lastly, we’ve got Udanta Singh, who recently completed a move to FC Goa following a long stay at Bengaluru FC. The winger saw limited game time but boasts incredible experience in India’s top flight.
During the 2022/23 campaign, Udanta often came off the bench, racking up a total game time of just 480 minutes throughout the season. He made 17 appearances, bagging two assists and failing to score a single goal.
However, he managed 201 appearances for the Blues, scoring 22 goals and providing 22 assists throughout his time in Bengaluru. He will certainly have a lot to prove in the coming ISL campaign.