Ever since former Croatia manager Igor Stimac was appointed the Indian National team coach in May 2019, there have been slow but steady improvements in quality. He has not been afraid to hand out debuts to upcoming talent, naming as many as six debutants his first fixture. At the same time, he has also recognised the amount of quality already present in the squad; as shown by the number of minutes given to some of the top stars.
Most minutes played under Igor Stimac
#5 Manvir Singh: 822 minutes in 13 matches
Coming fifth on this list is Manvir Singh, who has the most matches played of the five but is regularly substituted. The Punjab-born forward is a relatively new name in Indian football at just twenty years of age, but has put in consistent performances that have convinced Stimac to play him regularly. Playing an average of sixty minuted per match, he is definitely one to watch out for in the future.
#4 Udanta Singh: 894 minutes in 11 matches
Twenty-five-year old Udanta Singh has 18 goals and 12 assists in 149 matches with Bengaluru FC. He is well known for being a live-wire down the right flank and defenders find it hard to deal with his bursts of pace. He is often the one chasing a long punt or making runs for the national side too. He has earned 11 international caps under Stimac but he has been playing for the national side for quite some time now. He got his debut under Stephen Constantine back in 2016.
#3 Rahul Bheke: 896 minutes in 11 matches
Rahul Bheke has played eleven games for India under Igor Stimac since he took over. The defender, who can play right-back and centre-back, has had a fruitful club career with East Bengal and Bengaluru FC. He won the ISL in 2019 with Bengaluru, and even scored a 117th minute winner in the final against FC Goa.
#2 Sunil Chhetri: 924 minutes in 11 matches
Sunil Chhetri has been the undeniable poster boy of Indian football for a decade now: such is his popularity. He is the second top scorer in international matches among active players. With 74 goals for India in 118 appearances, it is no wonder that Stimac continues to depend on him for goals; he recently scored a double in a 2-0 win against Bangladesh.
#1 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: 1080 minutes in 12 matches
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s rise to the top has coincided with Stimac installing him as the first choice for the national team. His international debut came in 2011 at the age of 19. After a few strong seasons with Bengaluru FC, his place in the Indian national team has been cemented since Stimac took over in 2019. In 43 caps, he has 15 clean sheets and 53 goals conceded.