Goal.com's Ayush Srivastava has a look at the new talent coming through the I-League in the scouting report. This month the focus is on Holicharan Narzary....
With several of our followers demanding a series to highlight the next group of talented Indian players coming through the system, Goal.com has started a new scouting series, in which we bring to you the profiles of players who have taken their first steps into the professional circuit recently or who have the potential to be future stars of the game in India.
Today we have a look at Holicharan Narzary, the young Pailan Arrows and Indian Colts striker, who has shot to fame with his poaching skills in the Federation Cup and the I-League this season.
I-League debut – The youngster made his league debut in the 2010-11 season on 5th May 2011 against Salgaocar. The AIFF developmental side lost the game 3-1, but Narzary scored a late consolation for his side.
Good qualities – Movement upfront, good touch and technique, as well as an ability to be at the right place at the right time.
Needs to improve on – As seen in the recent game against United Sikkim, the striker could still improve his finishing, while his hold-up play also needs to be worked on. As an 18 year old, he is yet to fully mature physically.
A bit like – His movement and poaching skills remind one instantly of another left-footed goalscorer, Robbie Fowler.
While he has a long way to go before he could be termed as the “Indian Robbie Fowler”, the silken touch and positional awareness alongwith similarities in build and height mean that comparisons are inevitable with the Liverpool legend.
Narzary has been a regular starter under Arthur Papas....
Pailan Arrows’ unbeaten start to the season has come as a pleasant surprise to many. Having failed to put up much of a challenge last season, one could have expected the AIFF developmental side to do even worse this season, with important players like CS Sabeeth leaving the club.
But four games into this season, Arthur Papas’ side lie third in the table, looking down at their more illustrious Kolkatan rivals like East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Prayag United.
While the squad itself has been performing admirably, with 3 of his side’s 5 goals in the I-League, Holicharan Narzary has been the driving force behind the young team’s rise up the table. He has also more than adequately replacing Sabeeth as the focal point in Arrows’ attack.
From his initial steps into club football with Assam's Seven Stars to a regular starting spot in a club which boasts of being a breeding ground for India’s finest players for the future, Narzary has definitely come a long way in a game he started playing at his grandfather’s behest.
The young striker first started playing in his village situated in Kokrajhar, Assam, where he represented his school and soon started spending his evenings fine tuning his skills.
After impressing in the school leagues, the then free-scoring winger was encouraged to attend a trial at a Sports Authority of India (SAI) Hostel nearby. Having made the cut there, he went on to represent Assam at the U-16 National Championships in Mahilpur.
His talent was spotted by scouts at the tournament, and he earned a call up to the India U-16 squad, from where he graduated to the India U-19, sharing the dressing room with more senior players like Jeje Lalpekhlua and Manandeep Singh in a tournament at Iran.
Colin Toal moved him into a central position...
It was during his time under Colin Toal that he eventually moved from being a winger to a centre forward, as the experienced coach felt that with his positional sense, he would be a better prospect as a striker.
Apart from Toal, the player credits his coaches at the SAI academy for his improvement as a footballer. He told Goal.com, “Pradeep Kumar Brahmo and Pramod Sir from SAI Hostel in Assam were influential in my development. They motivated me to come for practice in the morning and evening everyday, so that I could become a better player.”
The stints with the youth team helped improve the player’s all-round game and eventually he was roped in for the then named Indian Arrows side.
However with several other, slightly more experienced players ahead of him, the striker did not get too many opportunities, but showed his predatory instincts on his debut against Salgaocar, scoring the consolation goal for the Arrows in a game they lost 3-1. While the loss hurt him and the team, the player counts his first appearance and goal as one of his most cherished memories in his life.
The new season bought a change in name, management and venue for the Arrows, but the youngster still found his chances to be limited. However on every opportunity he got, he showed he had plenty of untapped potential with his movement and skills on the ball. Marked out as a player good enough to answer the prayers of a striker starved nation, Narzary needed a coach who would place his trust in him.
His prayers were answered when Arthur Papas took over, and after scoring twice in the Federation Cup, there has been no looking back for the striker, whose tendency of being at the right place at the right time has seen him garner plenty of plaudits.
Has the striker caught Koeverman's eye?....
Unlike many left footed players, Narzary is wonderfully two footed and has a brilliant balance allowing him to unleash a shot from anywhere in the attacking third.
Having finally made such an impact, the Manchester United fan hopes to continue progressing in the same vein, revealing his desire to play for his dream club and his habit of analyzing other forwards to help improve his own game.
He informed, “I have a lot of things to improve on, so I watch a lot of strikers in action. I also watch all the big games in the I-League.”
“I watch Manchester United’s games a lot as well and follow Lionel Messi keenly too. I hope to one day play like them and with them. I support Manchester United, I really like them. Perhaps if I ever get a chance I would really go, though I have never got an offer from a foreign club,” he further added.
While fulfilling such aims might yet be a distant dream for a striker, what cannot be denied is that he has all the talent needed to become the next goal scoring machine, like one of his idols – Bhaichung Bhutia.
With an able tactician and coach like Arthur Papas guiding him, one can look forward to hearing a lot more about the striker in the years to come.
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