Indian Football

Igor Stimac terms Indian Super League as "comfort football"

Mudeet Arora
Stimac is not too convinced that ISL is helping grow football in India
Stimac is not too convinced that ISL is helping grow football in India / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/GettyImages

Indian football team coach Igor Stimac is not confident regarding whether the Indian Super League is helping the growth of the beautiful game in the country.

As revealed by the TOI, in an interaction with the media inside India's camp in Kolkata, Stimac said, "ISL is just comfort football in it's present form. It gives good salary to the players and they are in a comfortable space.

"In the ISL, when a player receives a pass, he has enough time to think about his next move. But in international football, you don't get that time. You have to make an instant decision and move on."

Stimac further stated, "When I was coming to India as the coach, many people told me I was lucky as I have 1.25 billion options to choose from. But when I came here, I realised I have 10 teams to choose from and a pool of 50 odd Indian players, who are mostly goalkeepers, defenders or defensive midfielders.

"The key positions in almost all ISL teams are taken by foreigners who had nowhere else to go and who are here for the salary."

Revealing his issues in the national team, "As a national coach, I don't have a ready pool of players. I have to pick players from these ISL teams and I have to take what is offered to me. I know every I-League coach feels his team has 2-3 players who can be in the national side, and I wish that was true. But let's be realistic, Gokulam's win against ATK Mohun Bagan was great, but if you asked me, they will win one out of 10 such games and that was one."

Highlighting the major issue in Indian football, Stimac concluded, "Expectations are very high, but options are limited, so is the base. It’s a challenge I would like to take up. Some players from the Indian Arrows and U-17 project are very talented and have huge potential. But then, if they get used to high salary and the comfort that comes with it, half of them might disappear."

The Indian football team will feature in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers later this month and the Blue Tigers will be vying to qualify for the contintental competition yet again.