ISL has just comforted football: Igor Stimac | Soccer News

India’s top league is modest, says national coach
KOLKATA: National coach Igor Stimac is not too convinced that India’s most important football tournament – the Indian Super League, is contributing as much as it should to the growth of the game in the country.
“ISL is just comfort football in its current form,” the coach said during an interaction here on Tuesday. “It gives the players a good salary 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 only get not this time. You need to make an immediate decision and move on.”
The Croatian legend clearly thinks India’s top league is really on a low level. He has his reasons for this. “When I came to India as a coach, a lot of people told me that I was lucky because I had 1.25 billion options to choose from. But when I got here, I realized I had a choice of 10 teams and a pool of 50 odd Indian players, who are mostly goalkeepers, defenders or defensive midfielders.”
Key positions in almost all ISL teams are filled by outsiders “who had nowhere to go and who are here for the pay”. Although Stimac doesn’t want to lecture the ISL coaches, he added that if he was one he would work hard with the Indian players.
“As a national coach I don’t have a ready pool of players,” he said. “I have to choose players from these ISL teams and I have to take what is offered to me.” Gokulam Kerala’s I-League success is great for the club, but Stimac doesn’t think India’s second league has enough talent to replace national team players.
“I know every coach in the I-League thinks his team has 2-3 players who can be in the national team, and I wish that were true. But let’s be real. Gokulam’s win against ATK Mohun Bagan was awesome, but if you ask me, they’ll win one out of 10 of those games and that was the one.”
Stimac accepted the mission in India for the challenges that the country can face. “The expectations are very high, but the options are limited, and so is the base. It’s a challenge that I would like to take on,” he said. He has already identified a pool of youngsters for the future, but fears they will fall into the ‘ISL trap’ of high pay and comfort. “Some players in the Indian Arrows and U-17 draft are very talented and have huge potential. But then, if they get used to high pay and the comforts that come with it, half of them might disappear.”
The coach believes that one good result can change everything for India. With the Asian Cup qualifiers taking place here later this month, it is optimistic that India will qualify for the main event. And that good result might just be around the corner.

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