indian super league, isl
(L-R) Nishu Kumar of Bengaluru FC, Arata Izumi of Kerala Blasters FC, Abinash Ruidas of Mumbai City FC, Kean Lewis of FC Pune City and Karanjit Singh of Chennaiyin FCPR Handout

The Indian Super League has always been about the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and so on...The star Indian footballers who always remain the centre of attraction before or during the tournament.

Of course, fans look out for the star foreigners as well. But in this article, we want our focus to remain just on the Indian players.

The recent rule of fielding at least six Indian players during a match in the ISL 2017, is set to give a major boost to the career of some lesser known Indian-stars. Who knows, at the end of the tournament, we might indeed be finding a handful of fresh Indian football stars.

Quoting Delhi Dynamos head coach Miguel Angel Portugal: "The ISL will eventually see a player emerge - someone like the Virat Kohli of Indian football - who will then carry the team in the future and inspire youngsters to play the sport.

"The development of youngsters is very important for any country's progress in a sport and this league will help in that," Miguel said at the ISL Media Day last week.

A look at some of these lesser-known Indian players we are referring to:

Hitesh Sharma - Midfielder, ATK

The 19-year-old footballer from Jalandhar turned attention while playing for Mumbai FC in the I-League earlier this year. Former coach Santosh Kashyap said that Hitesh has all the traits to become the next superstar of Indian football.

Proper grooming under the legendary Teddy Sheringham and Ashley Westwood at ATK can add further powers to his arsenal.

Nishu Kumar - Full-back, Bengaluru FC

Deployed as a left back for key matches of BFC in the I-League as well as in the AFC Cup, Nishu's speed and ability is remarkable. The 20-year-old from Uttar Pradesh made his India U-23 football team debut earlier this year.

Teammate Sunil Chhetri has sung praises of Nishu and come ISL 2017, if handed the opportunity, Nishu's runs along the left flank are set to mesmerise you.

Anirudh Thapa - Midfielder, Chennaiyin FC

The 19-year-old played with Chennaiyin last year as well but didn't make more than one appearance. His talent is however highly-rated. Thapa remained one of the key players for Minerva Punjab FC in the I-League earlier this year.

Chennaiyin FC deciding on retaining the higly-rated Indian midfielder shows the amount of potential the Indian Super League side sees in him.

Lallianzuala Chhangte - Forward, Delhi Dynamos

Remember the name? The 20-year-old Mizoram starlet became the second-youngest footballer to score for the Indian national football team, back in the SAFF Cup 2015, against Nepal.

It is highly unlikely that Lallianzuala would manage to get starting berths in the matches for Delhi Dynamos. Revered as a perfect super-sub, if coach Miguel Angel indeed decides to launch him somewhere in the second half of the match, get ready to be dazzled with the youngster's pace and trickery.

Liston Colaco - Forward, FC Goa

There have been quite a number of star footballers from Goa who went on to become the focal point of the Indian football team for many years. We're talking of the likes of Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence and so on.

Liston is tipped to continue that tradition. According to the Times of India, FC Goa paid have agreed to pay Salgaocar FC Rs 15 lakh in two installments to get the transfer of the player done earlier this year. 

Isaac Vanmalsawma - Midfielder, FC Pune City

Isaac, 21, remained one of the star players for Shillong Lajong FC in the I-League this year. Known for his versatility to play anywhere in the midfield, the Mizoram lad definitely remains one of the most promising Indian players in ISL 2017.

He remained on the scoresheet as Pune hammered Indian football giants Mohun Bagan 4-1 in a preseason friendly.

Sumeet Passi - Forward, Jamshedpur FC

The Indian national team doesn't boost of many tall forwards. After Robin Singh, Sumeet can be counted as one of those very few tall centre-forwards with legit goalscoring boots. 

Quite a reliable striker for national coach Stephen Constantine, Sumeet is definitely one of the most integral figures of the newly-formed Jamshedpur FC. He is coming back after a long injury layoff and thus, it remains to be seen if coach Steve Coppell is willing to field him right from the start of ISL 2017.

Siam Hanghal - Midfielder, Kerala Blasters

The 24-year-old footballer from Manipur is a relatively experienced customer in the Indian Super League. After stints with Bengaluru FC in the I-League as well as ISL sides NorthEast United FC and Chennaiyin FC, Hanghal will play for the first time in Kerala Blasters colours.

A fan of Steven Gerrard, Hanghal's talent can make him a perfect addition to any football side.

Abhinas Ruidas - Midfielder, Mumbai City FC

The former East Bengal attacking midfielder has dyed his hair blonde lately, much like Komal Thatal, and he will easily be recognisable whenever Ruidas touches the ball in the match.

The 22-year-old has earlier played for ATK in the ISL as well as Mumbai last season. So keen was coach Alexandre Guimaraes on retaining Ruidas that the ISL side was even locked in a battle with East Bengal over the player's custody. Finally, the AIFF had to intervene and Mumbai got the last laugh in the end.

Rehenesh TP - Goalkeeper, NorthEast United FC

Except for the likes of Subrata Paul, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh or Karanjit Singh, Indian goalkeepers don't make much appearance in the football discussions. 

If we had to pick one highly-rated Indian footballer -- who is not Gurpreet or Subrata -- it had to be Rehenesh. The 24-year-old Keralite will play his fourth ISL season with NorthEast United FC this time. His I-League season with East Bengal this year remained topsy-turvy but he still continues to be one of the key custodians in Indian football.