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Manipur’s defender Bikash Yumnam makes to The Guardian’s ‘Next Generation’ 2020 list

Minerva Football Academy and Punjab FC young soccer sensation Bikash Yumnam is among the top 60 under-18 footballers to watch out for. The list which has players from Manchester City, PSG, Real Madrid Arsenal,

Juventus and Bayern Munich among others was published on Thursday.
Bikash became the first and only Indian to make The Guardian’s ‘Next Generation‘ list – a selection of the best young footballers on the planet, published annually by the English newspaper.

A central defender by the trade, Bikash Yumnam commenced his footballing career with Minerva Football Academy and gave a good impression in the youth level itself. He was one of the stars in the Indian football team that played in the 2018 U-16 Asian Championships, where the side conceded no goals in the group stage against Vietnam, Iran and Indonesia enroute to the quarter-finals.

Punjab FC, Yumnam was loaned to Indian Arrows, the All India Football Federation’s development side, for the 2019-20 I-League. After 16 games, the Indians-only Arrows who are protected from relegation were at the bottom of the 11-team standings. Yumnan played nine games in the I-League top tier before it was halted because of Covid-19.

Former Minervan Bikash has got it all to become a top player in the future. The 17-year-old is composed on the ball also a great reader of the game and a smart defender who has a great physique and is a master in excellent, fast, long throw-ins who will only improve in the future. The Manipur born defender is a leader of the men even at this age and successfully led the Minervan U-15 squad to 4th successive Hero Junior League (U-15) title in 2019.

With the news breaking in, Mr. Ranjit Bajaj, Owner of Minerva Academy FC jubilantly stated, “It’s great news and brings me immense joy and pride that my boy Bikash got featured in such a prestigious list. It’s a matter of pride for me and Minerva and for the whole country perhaps as he is the first and only Indian player to get featured with lots of stars of tomorrow in world football. He has huge potential, everyone here appreciates him, he has the attributes to become a great player.

He is a young player who of course will have to be protected, but at the same time should be given space to grow and reach his potential. He is a serious kid, always on time for training, and has a certain modesty but on the pitch, he leads the team and always wants to win as a team. He is an example for many in the academy and I hope we can produce such talents in years to come.”

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