Manchester United could have another impressive prospect in their academy after an impressive under-18s debut for Zidane Iqbal.
The 16-year-old made his first appearance for Neil Ryan’s side in a 3-2 win against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League U18s Group F.
The attacking midfielder was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Aon Training Complex.
As United had drawn their previous two games in the competition, we couldn’t qualify for the next stage, irrespective of the result.
Ryan’s team showed great character after falling 2-0 behind inside the opening 10 minutes after two goals from Fin Thorndike.
Two first half penalties from United’s captain Charlie McCann and a goal from substitute Omar Forson in the 77th minute earnt Ryan’s side an impressive comeback and unlike the senior side, the youngsters were able to hold onto their lead.
Who is Iqbal?
The Manchester-born midfielder was added to the under-18 squad after signing a two-year scholarship in the summer.
He was promoted to Ryan’s squad after impressing for United’s under-16 side last season.
Iqbal has also shone at United in the under-14s and 15s teams.
He has represented United in the Super Cup NI tournament in Northern Ireland last year and was part of the training camp in Austria in the summer of 2019.
Iqbal stakes claim for more action
Playing alongside United’s summer acquisition Hannibal Mejbri, it was Iqbal who was the chief orchestrator, stamping his authority on the match.
The young Frenchman was replaced at half-time after being booked for persistent fouling. It was a frustrating afternoon for Mejbri.
Iqbal however looked neat and nimble with his ball at his feet and was always looking to link up with rapid winger Deji Sotona.
The attacking midfielder, who was wearing the number 10 shirt, was finding pockets of spaces and was always eager to get on the ball and engage in quick interplay with one or two touches.
His low centre of gravity was causing problems for hosts and they struggled to nullify the threat Iqbal posed.
There were a couple of occasions where he picked the ball up and showcased his quick feet and dribbling skills to get away from defenders, before unleashing shots which forced the Baggies’ keeper into some good saves.
It wasn’t just the technical side of Iqbal’s game which impressed, he was willing to hassle and press without the ball and didn’t give the hosts any time to settle in possession.
There were times where he lost the ball cheaply, but he was taking risks and eager to create chances for his team mates.
Iqbal is only going to get better and his decision making will improve as his development continues and he gains more experience through valuable game time.
He was replaced in the 62nd minute in what was a positive display on his under-18 debut.
After an impressive performance against WBA, Iqbal could be rewarded with another start against the same side on Saturday.
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