As the biggest occasion in the history of Indian football continues, the biggest attraction of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 came to a conclusion on Thursday October 12.
The India under 17 football suffered a 0-4 hammering at the hands of Ghana at the JLN Stadium in Delhi, and with the defeat, the campaign of the hosts in the competition also came to an end.
Luis Norton de Matos' boys suffered defeats in all their three group games -- against the United States of America (USA), Colombia and Ghana. They conceded a total of nine goals from the three matches.
Despite that fact, believe it or not, India's defensive display in all these matches remained the most outstanding feature.
Thanks to some standout players who have a brilliant future ahead if groomed properly right from this very moment, the India under 17 football team gave a memorable performance.
After much thought and reviews of the matches, we have selected four key players from the India team who have all it takes to be the next top football stars, not only in India but also in Asia.
Here is the list:
Komal Thatal - It was an absolute shame that the short-statured nimble-footed left winger from Sikkim, who could have been the most standout performer of the Indian team from the tournament, didn't get a chance to feature against Colombia and Ghana.
His lightning pace and dribbling abilities to take on defenders in the match against the USA made him an instant force to reckon with. Komal's unique golden mohawk hairstyle also turned attention. He made football fans bring out comparisons with Brazil superstar Neymar, but we still might not be able to find out the actual reason why Komal played just ONE match in the FIFA World Cup.
Coming under criticism, coach Norton de Matos reasoned that the team was about 11 players and not just one. He also mentioned that Komal had absolute no chance against the physically stronger players from Colombia and Ghana.
Nevertheless, Komal is one footballer we feel has some real bright chance to shine for India in the foreseeable future.
Boris Singh Thangjam - The full-back, also hailing from Manipur, remained an absolute revelation in the World Cup. Boris can even give Pritam Kotal, the tried-and-tested right-back in the Indian senior football team, some major competition.
If this is the quality he can produce at this age, imagine what we can expect from him in the near future!
Boris was suspended for the first game, but came back strongly against Colombia and Ghana. On Thursday against Ghana, the highly-rated football player brought out his A-game. He not only defended efficiently to keep the Ghana forwards at bay early on, but his mesmerising runs down the wing and frequent shots on goal also turned attention.
Not just that, the right-back also surprised the Ghana midfielders as he switched positions comfortably and also carried out attacking moves from the left flank.
Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem - Undoubtedly, the best player of the competition for India, it was absolutely unfortunate that the Manipuri custodian could not get even one clean sheet. His world-class saves, meanwhile, did most of the talking.
Dheeraj's height is a major advantage going forward. Apart from that, his positional sense and agility is also highly-rated. German Bundesliga giants Borussia Monchengladbach have reportedly shown interest in the goalkeeper and this only suggests that even the best of scouts in European football know the qualities Dheeraj possesses.
And the solidity he can give any team, back in the goalkeeping department, is invaluable.
We wouldn't do justice to Dheeraj's abilities if we don't mention his unreal long throws during critical times to inspire the Indian footballers to keep moving forward. Almost a kick, his single-handed throw of the football from the back, always landed on the opposition half, time and again.
Anwar Ali - More or less, every Indian football fan remained confused to see that name in the India under 17 football team squad. Anwar is an experienced defender who has played for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. We're talking of the senior Anwar Ali.
The junior Anwar Ali might have made the senior Ali smile big. Standing in at 6'5", the left-footed centre-back hailing from Adampur, a municipal council in the Jalandhar district of Punjab, stole attention with his performances at the back for the India under 17 football team.
His performances and the well-maintained man-bun would also impress hometown hero Sandesh Jhingan, who has solidified his place in the Indian senior football team lineup.
Anwar has been exceptional with his clean tackles -- properly timed and executed, the timely clearances and no-nonsense man marking. He played all the three matches and even though the likes of Eric Ayiah (Ghana), Juan Penaloza (Colombia) and Josh Sargent (USA) managed to score against India, the players knew they were made to face one one hell of a time by the unknown Anwar Ali.