New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) A part of the ATK coaching staff, Sanjay Sen has quite a few trophies in his cabinet and having closely seen the level of football rise in the country in the last few years, Sen believes that national team coach Igor Stimac has a valid point when he speaks about the immediate need to reduce the number of foreign players playing in the Indian club teams.
“I will explain this in two ways. Firstly, the country’s champion team will go to play in the AFC championships. In the AFC tournaments, one can play only four foreigners, i.e., three foreigners and one Asian quota player. Whereas in the ISL or I-League, the rule is you can recruit seven foreigners and there will be five on the pitch at a time. Secondly, if we recruit a lesser number of foreigners in our clubs, more Indian players can be included,” Sen told IANS.
Sen is disappointed with the fact that there is hardly any name that comes to mind when one thinks of a striker post Sunil Chetri and he further rues the lack of a reliable central defender after Sandesh Jhingan and Anas.
“You just tell me the name of one striker after Sunil Chetri. There is nobody. You just name one good central defender after Sandesh Jhingan and Anas. If one of them gets injured, we hardly find a replacement. In all our Indian club teams these positions are occupied by foreign footballers.
“I am not blaming the clubs. They build their team to win tournaments and to make their central defense and striking force strong, they recruit foreigners as they are comparatively better than our players.
“You just see, Balwant Singh and Jobby Justin are the best among the Indian strikers. Both of them are in ATK. But, how much game-time have they got? If the foreigners are reduced, then our players will get more game and more game-time and that will certainly help our players to improve their skills,” he remarked.
Sen went on to further explain that whatever is being done is for the betterment of Indian football. “I do agree that ISL is a good tournament, and especially this year it was a splendid competition. I do not doubt that ISL has improved the standard of Indian football. But at the same time, we need to think about our national team also and, in that context, I am on the same page as Igor Stimac.”
Stimac had spoken about the need to have fewer foreigners in Indian leagues following the Asian Football Confederation’s ‘3+1’ rule for overseas players (three foreigners and one Asian player in each team).