‘Only by playing over 40 games a season, they can compete against the best’
The national coach Igor Stimac said there are not enough players with requisite technical ability to make the senior national football team competitive enough.
Speaking to the media on Friday, following India’s recently concluded World Cup qualification campaign, Stimac said that the stake-holders of Indian football should look at this fact and devise a system that would help Indian footballers have enough games to grow in terms of technical ability.
“To be honest there are not many players with the technical ability. As a national team we suffer all the weaknesses that are apparent in the country’s top league, the ISL. This happens when most of the important positions in the team are occupied by foreign players. This definitely limits the choice when we go to select the Indian players,” Stimac said.
India’s World Cup chances were over when it finished third in its group but that result helped it move to the third round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Looking at the way forward for the Indian players, Stimac said: “They need to play more than 40 matches a season. It is only then that they can compete against the best in the continent. The clubs need to be playing football for a longer period, otherwise the players will be sitting idle for half of the year,” Stimac said.
As regards preparing the team for the Asian Cup qualifiers scheduled in February, Stimac said: “We have to exploit the FIFA calendar and start the camp in August. We would like to play two friendlies in September and if the ISL starts late we can continue playing friendlies in October and November. Once the ISL starts, the players will be having enough competitive matches before the February qualifiers,” Stimac said.
Stimac’s contract with the All India Football Federation expires in September and the former World Cupper from Croatia hoped that the national federation would appreciate the qualitative progress the team has made.
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