From Chhetri to the Future: Time for the Young Strikers to take charge

As Indian football legend Sunil Chhetri nears the end of his illustrious career, the time has come for the young strikers in the Indian national team to step up and assume leadership in the goals-scoring department

As the Hero Intercontinental Cup approaches, all eyes will be on the next generation of Indian strikers to seize the opportunity and make their mark. The upcoming tournaments, including the SAFF Cup, Kings Cup, Merdeka Tournament, and ultimately the AFC Asian Cup, provide the perfect platform for these emerging talents to showcase their potential and take the reins from the iconic Sunil Chhetri.

Lallianzuala Chhangte: A Winger with a Scoring Instinct

Lallianzuala Chhangte, who primarily operates on the wings, has been in sensational form for Mumbai City FC. This season, Chhangte found the net 18 times across various competitions. Chhangte’s goal-scoring prowess and ability to create opportunities make him a crucial asset in the team’s attacking setup. With his confidence soaring, he is expected to play a key role in leading the Indian attack.

Liston Colaco: Looking to Regain Form

Liston Colaco, who had an impressive last season with 13 goals for Mohun Bagan, has experienced a slight dip in form recently. Despite playing second fiddle to Dimitri Petratos, Colaco possesses the potential to find the net from unlikely positions and he can be a prolific goal scorer. The upcoming tournaments provide him with an opportunity to regain his confidence and demonstrate his capabilities as a potent striker.

Ishan Pandita scored his maiden goal for India during the 4-0 win over Hong Kong at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification.

Ishan Pandita: Unleashing His Potential

Ishan Pandita has shown glimpses of his immense talent, despite limited playing time. Although he has just nine goals in 45 appearances in his 3 years in the Indian Super League (ISL), Pandita has played just over 1100 minutes. Mostly used as a super sub, the youngster has had to fight for his place in the starting lineup against foreign strikers in the club setup. Pandita’s physicality, two-footed shooting ability, and fearlessness in taking on defenders makes him a promising candidate to succeed Chhetri. As he continues to impress with his skills, Pandita aims to prove himself as a worthy successor to the legendary striker.

Rahim Ali: Stepping Up in the Absence of Manvir Singh

With Manvir Singh sidelined due to injury, 23-year-old Rahim Ali is expected to feature prominently in the upcoming Hero Intercontinental Cup. Known for his physical prowess and adeptness in linking up with teammates, Ali adds a valuable dimension to the team’s attacking line. However, he needs to showcase better finishing abilities to establish himself as a reliable goal scorer truly.

Injured Talents:

Unfortunately, Sivasakthi Narayanan and Manvir Singh will miss the upcoming tournaments due to injuries. Sivasakthi made a strong impression in his second ISL season, scoring 11 goals before a facial injury disrupted his progress. Concerns over his recovery led to his exclusion from the national team. At the other end is Manvir Singh, a senior striker in terms of experience with the national set-up and with occasional flashes of brilliance. Manvir has been plagued by inconsistency over the years but his physical presence and pace have been key factors in his selections, However, he will miss out on the Hero Intercontinental Cup due to injury.

Time to step up

As the Hero Intercontinental Cup and subsequent tournaments draw near, the spotlight is on the young strikers in the Indian national team to step into the shoes of the iconic Sunil Chhetri. Lallianzuala Chhangte, Liston Colaco, Ishan Pandita, and Rahim Ali have the potential to take charge and lead the team’s attacking line.

It will be fascinating to witness how they perform and whether they can exhibit the ruthless nature required to finish off chances perfectly, thereby securing their place as the successors to the Indian legend.

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