It is time for the two youngsters to announce their arrival at the biggest stage…
Danu grabbed the headlines for the first time when he beat his fellow team-mate Jitendra Singh’s record of being the youngest ever goalscorer in the then top division of Indian football, i.e. I-League. He scored against Aizawl on January 5, 2019, at 16 years, five months and 27 days, beating the previous record of Jitendra, who scored when he was of 16 years, six months and 13 days.
In his very first season in senior football, he showed that he has it in him what it takes to succeed at the top level. He made 14 appearances and scored four goals. One of them came against Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium, which saw the Mariners faithful applaud his efforts.
He is comfortable with the ball and is not afraid to take on defenders. He is capable of providing a creative impetus in midfield to a Hyderabad side that struggled in the previous campaign. Not many would doubt his goalscoring abilities and this is a department that the Nizams struggled a lot in the previous season as they could score only 21 goals in 18 matches. He even got on the scoresheet in a friendly against FC Goa when the two teams locked horns as a part of their preparations for the upcoming season.
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Danu will have to be careful of his fitness. An ankle injury forced him to sit out from the final squad of the U17 World Cup. He also missed India U16 side’s 2018 AFC U16 Championship qualifiers due to the same injury and subsequently the main event due to AFC norms. In fact, he even had to sit out the first few games of the previous season in I-League as he was on the nursing table.
In spite of these setbacks, he has always managed to come back stronger and fitter. After regaining match fitness he became an important cog in attack for Arrows and his partnership with Vikram Pratap caught the attention of many experts.
His fellow teammate Akash Mishra is another player who blossomed last season with Indian Arrows, establishing himself as an undisputed starter and clocked every minute of the campaign. He was part of the U Dream football programme and had training stints at German club Hoffenheim‘s academy.
His defensive qualities are well documented and he is a tough customer to deal with for wingers in one-on-one situations. He likes to gallop forward and help in attack but still needs to work on his crossing and decision-making in the final third.
Mishra has to fight for a spot against Sahil Panwar who is more experienced and has been a part of ISL in the last couple of years. But Hyderabad’s lacklustre defensive record in the last edition might force coach Manuel Marquez to freshen things up a bit at the back.
To put it in a nutshell, both the youngsters have immense potential to make it big. Now it remains to be seen how they nurture themselves under the guidance of a veteran coach like Marquez. The upcoming season will be a litmus test for their future.
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