Following his display n the recently concluded Federation Cup for champions East Bengal, Goal.com analyses whether he merits his place among Asia's best...Goal.com's compilation of Asia's best XI for the month of September is done and dusted. After Sunil Chhetri (in the substitutes) and Syed Rahim Nabi in August, for the second month running, an Indian player has been featured amongst Asia's elite. He is none other than East Bengal striker Manandeep Singh.
In the Federation Cup triumph, it was the India international who was central to their cup run, scoring 4 goals in the tournament. His contribution didn't go unnoticed as he was not only named in the best XI but also got an honourable mention in Goal.com's World Player of the Week.
Manandeep's qualities were known for quite some time in the Indian circuit, if not on a continental level yet. The striker didn't have the greatest of seasons in the 2010-11 when he played second fiddle to Jeje Lalpekhlua and Malswamfela at the Indian Arrows, which was All India Football Federation's (AIFF) developmental side.
But it was his stint at Air India the following season that made the big clubs sit up and take notice. He moved to Air India for the 2011-12 season and was amongst their chief contributers in the goalscorig department, netting 8 goals in just 12 appearances, including a barce against then defending champions Salgaocar and Mohun Bagan.
For his contributions last season, he was even named as the FPAI (Football Players Association of India) Young Player of The Year.
|Manadeep celebrates his goal in the Final of the Federation Cup
Following his transfer to Mohun Bagan's bitter rivals East Bengal, it looks like the Haryana-born lad is just set to get better. As mentioned earlier, his Federation Cup performances were crucial to East Bengal's cup run.
Starting the tournament on the bench, Manandeep made an impact in East Bengal's second game of the tournament. After drawing their opening match, East Bengal looked to be heading for another draw against I-League newcomers ONGC. But Manandeep came off the bench to net the winner to keep their qualifying hopes alive.
Their last group match was where he really came through for them. Needing a win against Kalighat to progress, the Kolkata giants were two goals down inside 15 minutes, but two quickfire strikes from the former Arrows forward in his first start, brought East Bengal back level in the game which they ultimately won 4-3.
Athough he didnt have the same impact in the semi-finals against the Churchill Brothers, Manandeep did show up in the final. With the match going into extra time with the score locked at 1-1, he showed intelligent running, finishing from close range after the goalkeeper had parried Lalrindika Ralte's shot his way.
Having already made a couple of appearances for the India U-23 side and more recently earning his first senior cap for India in earlier this year, the youngster looks to be well on his way up.
The youngster has surely earned his spot in Goal.com's Asian Bext XI for the month of September and this should only spur the player's confidence further as he prepares for the I-League.
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