With 16 points and five wins to their name, All India Football Federation's (AIFF) developmental team Indian Arrows have already bettered their points tally from I-League last season. They have five games left to play in the ongoing season.
On Tuesday, Arrows beat defending champions Minerva Punjab to move to the seventh spot in the league standings. They were plenty of positives to take away from the game for head coach Floyd Pinto, who himself has done a commendable job with the squad since taking over from Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos in the summer.
The whole squad has improved this season as compared to the 2017-18 season. Defensive midfielder Deepak Tangri, full-back-turned-winger Boris Singh and goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Gill have shown the biggest leap in terms individual growth.
Gill has been in supreme form in between the sticks ever since replacing Dheeraj Singh in goal from January 2018. The youngster has been brilliant with his reflex saves and distribution and has a good command of his area as well. He has made it habit to consistently deliver man-of-the-match performances and it was no different against Minerva Punjab.
Deepak Tangri has acted as the screen in front of the backline and he has impressed with his skill to dictate play. His ability in winning headers and putting in tough tackles has helped the team to no end. In addition, Tangri also has good skills on the ball. Boris Singh has been playing as a left winger and his ability on the ball is also impressive, not to mention his searing pace.
Pinto has readied his team to be able to maintain their defensive shape and use their pace up front to hit teams on the counter attacks. They are not only unafraid to keep possession but also prepared to patiently wait for their opportunity. Players such as Rahul KP and Rahim Ali have been able to trouble defences using their pace and physique. Rohit Danu, with three goals, has done a decent job of leading the line against experienced centre-backs.
The Arrows project has allowed players clock regular game time and their performances this season indicate that the players are reaping the rewards. With matches against Chennai City, Mohun Bagan and Real Kashmir coming up, although Pinto's boys are exempt from relegation, it would be wrong to think that they wouldn't fight till the last round to end the season on a high and most importantly give the players a taste of the competitive pressure.
Credit must also be given to the AIFF's Technical Committee for having stuck by an Indian coach after Luis Norton de Matos left. That decision seems to have paid off so far.