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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Who takes up Indian Football Team’s goal scoring duties?

Since his debut in 2005, Sunil Chhetri has become the heartbeat of Indian football. 19 years, 151 appearances and 94 goals later he still remains the cornerstone of the same

As Sunil Chhetri, India’s beloved ‘Captain, Leader and Legend’ played his final match for the country, the nation is left grappling with a profound question: who will fill the void left by him? Chhetri’s impact on Indian football has been nothing short of monumental, and finding someone to step into his shoes is a task fraught with emotion and urgency.

Sunil Chhetri’s legacy and the quest for his successor

Since his debut in 2005, Sunil Chhetri has become the heartbeat of Indian football. 19 years, 151 appearances and 94 goals later he still remains the cornerstone of the same. His uncanny ability to find the back of the net even during the most adverse situations and his unwavering leadership have made him an irreplaceable figure. As he steps down, the country looks to the future with a mix of hope and apprehension.

“It’s time for our country to see the next number 9. We need to build on it. Already we are a bit handicapped because many players, especially my national team boys, don’t play as number nine for their clubs. But now, with me stepping away, I’m sure many will step up. They will need time,” Chhetri said in his heartfelt farewell message, reflecting the weight of his departure.

As India prepares for its first match without Chhetri on June 11 against Qatar, the anticipation is palpable. National team coach Igor Stimac faces the daunting task of finding Chhetri’s successor. The transition to a new striker is crucial for the team’s future performance.

Talking about Sunil Chhetri’s replacement, Manvir Singh is the name that comes first. Manvir is a coach’s dream, following instructions perfectly. Skilled at holding the ball but inconsistent with finishing, he can go from brilliant strikes to head-scratching misses in quick succession. Regardless, he’s a tireless worker who never gives up.

Life after Sunil Chhetri: Who takes up Indian Football Team's goal scoring duties with must-win India vs Qatar looming over

While Manvir offers reliable execution of the coach’s plans, Rahim Ali is one contender worth talking about Though often a substitute for Chhetri, Ali has been touted as the replacement for quite some time now. However, anyone who has seen him in the national jersey knows he is far from taking up the job.

Can Lallianzuala Chhangte, Vikram Partap Singh take over the baton?

Two names shine brightly in the quest to find India’s next star goal scorer: Lallianzuala Chhangte and Vikram Partap Singh, both from Mumbai City FC. While Chhangte, at 26 is not a proper replacement for the captain, has dazzled in the Indian Super League with his speed, skill, and technical brilliance. His 10 goals and 6 assists in the recent season showcase his potential to fill the goal-scorer role.

Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manisha Kalyan have been adjudeged as AIFF Player of The Year, while Akash Mishra, Clifford Miranda have been honoured.

Vikram Partap Singh, a 22-year-old rising star, has shown immense promise as a future replacement for Chhetri’s scoring spree. His relentless work ethic and pressing have turned heads, and his performance during Mumbai City FC’s title-winning season, with 8 goals and 4 assists, marks him as a formidable candidate for the national team.

Is I-League the answer?

For years we have been looking for Sunil Chhetri’s heir in the Indian Super League, while the ISL boasts India’s top established players, young attackers are shining in the I-League. Lalrinzuala Lalbiaknia, Aizawl’s 23-year-old striker, shattered the decade-old record for most I-League goals by an Indian in a season, netting 15 in 20 matches (previously held by Chhetri and Rafi).

David Lalhlansanga (22) has been another revelation, scoring 11 goals and providing 3 assists (all competitions) to fire Mohammedan Sporting to their first I-League title and ISL promotion.

The search for India’s next number nine is underway, and fans eagerly await the emergence of a new hero. As Indian football transitions into a new era, the spotlight is on young talents who will carry Chhetri’s legacy forward. The challenge is immense, but so is the hope and passion driving this quest. The future of Indian football is at a crossroads, and the journey to find the next Chhetri is filled with anticipation and emotion.

Editors pick

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