India national team head coach, Igor Stimac has opened up on the current state of Indian football and the problems plaguing his side, revealing that, "all areas are a problem for us".
The Indian Super League (ISL), the country’s premier division, lasts for only four months, making it one of the shortest in the world, which continues to be a big problem for players in the country as a number of them do not have any club assignments for around seven-eight months a year.
While this remains a problem, the lack of quality football around the country remains a problem, something which Stimac believes hinders in the players progress.
“Not only central defence, all areas are a problem for us. With pandemic going around, we have a season that won’t last for eight-nine months. That’s the biggest problem for Indian football. Working like this, where players come to the national team during offseason, it’s terrible," he said at a media interaction.
The Indian national team were deserved winners of the recently concluded SAFF Championship, and while Stimac was delighted with the performance of his side, he was not too pleased that the few days he got with the team before the tournament was spent working on their fitness, rather than the tactical aspects of the game.
“We had certain problems in the beginning because we did not have enough preparation compared to other teams. Nepal had two-and-a-half months to prepare. We had only 7-8 days prior to the tournament. Half of the team was without proper competition mode and fitness… Soon, we will have a normal season like in other countries. We want to get to top 10 in Asia and (for that) we need to have the same quality of league as in the other countries,” Stimac concluded.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has reportedly given the All India Football Federation (AIFF) a year's time to increase the number of matches clubs play each season, which would ensure that the length of the season increases. If the federation fails to do so, India could lose its Asian Champions League spot.