ISL 2021-22: Top three young Indian defenders in the league this season

In a Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season that saw plenty of goals being scored, there were some promising young Indian defenders who made life difficult for the attackers.

Bengaluru FC full-back Roshan singh; Credit: Twitter/@bengalurufc
By Sreejith C R | Mar 28, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

In a Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season that saw plenty of goals being scored, there were some promising young Indian defenders who made life difficult for the attackers. What stood out this season was the rise of local lads who defied the age-old recipe that defenders need to have a big reputation as well as experience to get the job done. A refreshing crop of young Indian talent grabbed the opportunity thrown at them with both hands to make the Hero ISL season more special. 

Read more: Who is Liston Colaco? Know everything about the highly talented India striker

On that note let’s look at some of the top young Indian defenders  from the 2021-22 ISL season.

3) Akash Mishra

Hyderabad FC left-back Akash Mishra once again had a brilliant season and played a crucial role in his teams title triumph. The 20-year-old has consistently made marauding runs down the left flank to create goal-scoring chances while he was also solid at the back, making a whopping 97 tackles, 62 clearances and 57 interceptions. The Nizams ended up conceding the second-fewest goals in the league stage, 23 goals, behind Jamshedpur FC (21).

Mishra scored his first goal in the Hero ISL against Odisha FC and followed it with another goal against NorthEast United FC, helping his side clinch six important points.  He provided three assists and found the back of the net two times this season. Playing his second-ever Hero ISL season, Mishra has cemented his place as the first-choice full-back in the Manuel Marquez-led side with consistent top-class performances.

2) Ruivah Hormipam

The 21-year-old Kerala Blasters central defender has been one of the finds of the season. Although Hormipam was in his first ISL season, the Manipuri footballer quickly acclimated to the top-flight football and went on to make 14 appearances for the Kochi-based team, making 57 tackles, 31 interceptions, 67 clearances and 11 blocks. KBFC kept eight clean sheets in the league, most by any team and Hormipam was an integral part of the   defensive unit.

Hormipam’s best performace of the season came against Jamshedpur FC in the semi-finals. He he did a solid job to man-mark Greg Stewart, staying close to the Scotsman and not giving him any space to work with. Stewart went on to win the ISL Golden Ball award but Hormipam neutralised his threat in the play-offs, helping KBFC to secure a place in the title-decider. 

1) Naorem Roshan Singh

The 23-year-old full-back had a breakthrough season with Bengaluru FC. Although BFC failed to qualify for the play-offs Roshan was their stand-out performer. The youngster was the leading Indian assist provider and third overall in the season with seven assists in 17 matches and was the first-choice set-piece taker. He went on to win the 2021-22 Hero ISL Emerging Player of the year award for his stunning performance.

Rohan’s only goal of the season came against KBFC through a brilliant free-kick in the 56th-minute of the game that helped the Blues to secure a 1-0 victory. The free-kick goal was yet another example of what talent and skill he possesses.

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