Top 5 Emerging Stars who shone at the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup

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East Bengal eked out a nail-biting victory over Odisha in the final

The 2024 Kalinga Super Cup has just ended and we have had a spectacular tournament over the last 3 weeks, with the final between East Bengal and Odisha being the cherry on the top. The Red and Gold brigade emerged triumphant after a thrilling 3-2 win in extra time, thus ousting the defending champions in style at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.

The tournament had some top-notch clashes, with young guns especially impressing throughout the competition. The future of Indian football is certainly on an upward trajectory,  with the skill on display certainly turning heads. While the two finalists certainly had some of the best youngsters on offer, there were others who also made us stand up and take notice.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the young and emerging players who made their mark in the Kalinga Super Cup and will certainly be ones to watch out for in 2024 and beyond.

#5 Sayan Banerjee (East Bengal)

Definitely, a breakout star for East Bengal in their phenomenal 2024 Super Cup campaign, Bengal’s very own Sayan Banerjee ran circles around the opposition in all three games that he featured. The Red and Gold Brigade signed the talented winger from local club Kalighat MS and he certainly paid dividends for Carles Cuadrat.

Sayan came on as a substitute for Nandhakumar Sekar in two group games, however, his biggest impact came against Jamshedpur in the semi-final. Thanks to his pace and trickery, he forced experienced defender Pratik Chaudhari to be dragged out of position and commit a foul on him in the penalty box. With the right guidance from Cuadrat, there is little doubt Sayan is a superstar in the making for India.

#4 Lalthuammawia Ralte (Odisha)

 Ralte has given a brilliant account of himself under the bar

One of the biggest revelations of the Kalinga Super Cup has been the form of Lalthuammawia Ralte for Odisha. The goalkeeper, who had made only 3 appearances in the 2023-24 Indian Super League was sensational at the back for the Juggernauts, winning the Golden Glove in the process as well. He conceded only 5 goals in the tournament, 3 of which came in the final. 

Having kept 3 clean sheets in 5 of those games, including one against Mumbai City in the semi-final, the former Bengaluru goalkeeper has certainly left his mark for Odisha. It remains to be seen if Sergio Lobera uses him more extensively in the remaining ISL fixtures, but there is no doubting his ability on the biggest stage anymore.

#3 Ramhlunchhunga (Hyderabad)

Despite Hyderabad facing troubles off the pitch and having to exit in the group stage of the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup, Ramhlunchhunga’s heroics continued to grab attention. The budding star from Mizoram bagged 2 goals in the Kalinga Super Cup, one against eventual champions East Bengal and the other against Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

For those who follow the I-League closely, Ramhlunchhunga’s performances would not come as a surprise as he made waves last season with Sreenidi Deccan bagging 2 goals and 6 assists.

His impact is not just limited to scoring or setting up goals as well, as he can play anywhere across the frontline and is blessed with tremendous pace and trickery. He will certainly be a hot property this summer transfer window, especially if the youngster can carry on his form in the second half of the Indian Super League season.

#2 Vishnu PV (East Bengal)

Another budding star in the East Bengal squad is Vishnu PV. The Keralite forward, a product of the Luca Soccer Academy featured in all five of East Bengal’s games in the 2024 Super Cup. Gifted with impeccable pace and skill, Vishnu was a force to reckon with as he combined with Cleiton Silva upfront on numerous occasions to cause headaches to defence across the board.

Vishnu’s rise to fame has been steady, with him also having an assist to his name in the 2023-24 campaign of the Indian Super League for the Red and Gold Brigade. He was also scoring goals by the bucket-load in the Calcutta Football League 2023, netting 4 goals in one game against Kidderpore SC on one occasion.

#1 Ayush Chhikara (Mumbai City)

Ayush Chhikara was delightful to watch for the Islanders in the Kalinga Super Cup

Fitting into Petr Kratky’s plans at Mumbai City like a glove, Ayush Chhikara was simply delightful in the Kalinga Super Cup. Scoring 3 goals in 4 games including a brace against Punjab in the group stage, the young forward showcased skill and composure in front of the goal despite the pressure. His other strike was against Gokulam Kerala in their other group fixture.

Those who have been tracking Indian football’s next-gen are also already aware of Ayush’s potential, having seen him impress for the Reliance Youth Foundation Champs previously. Interestingly, the forward had bagged Mumbai City’s last goal in the Hero Super Cup 2023 and opened the scoring for the Islanders in the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup as well.