Zlatko Dalic calls for more Indians in ISL, I-League

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has called for more Indian players to feature in the country’s football leagues at the expense of foreigners.

Zlatko Dalic

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic stressed on the importance of why a solid grassroots coaching system must exist for top players to emerge, and said a similar system in Croatia has managed to produce talent despite it being a country of just four million people.   -  Getty Images

Zlatko Dalic, who guided Croatia to the final of 2018 FIFA World Cup, on Friday called for participation of more Indian players in the country’s football leagues at the expense of foreigners.

Football coaches from across the country had Dalic for company during an online session organised by the Sports Authority of India and All India Football Federation (AIFF).

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The 53 year-old, who continues to coach the national team, said: “I see too many foreigners in Indian local leagues, there should be less foreigners in Indian local leagues because it hampers the development of local players.”

“It is difficult to build a solid base of local talent if too many foreigners play in the domestic leagues,” he added.

Dalic stressed on the importance of why a solid grassroots coaching system must exist for top players to emerge, and said a similar system in Croatia has managed to produce talent despite it being a country of just four million people.

“We have good coaches in our football system who have been there from the grassroot level. That is what has enabled players like Modric, Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic to break through,” he said.

Croatia famously reached the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup after beating a number of fancied teams like Argentina and England on the way. Dalic said that his biggest challenge was never the talent and quality at his disposal, but getting Croatia to play as a team during the event.

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“No one trusted our team before the World Cup but we had been performing well over the past decade. When you play for the national team, you don’t need motivation, playing for the country is motivation enough,” he said.

“The likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, they are fantastic players but my big task was to ensure that this group plays like a team.

“The key to our success in that World Cup was that we played as a team. During the prize distribution Modric won the Golden Ball but he was very sad because his country could not win the final,” he added.

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