Igor Stimac worried about lack of Indian strikers

Igor Stimac wants Indian Super League clubs to follow the AFC's rules on player composition, thereby allowing the development of more Indian strikers.

IGOR STIMAC

“We will never find a replacement for him while the situation is like this. I cannot take someone who has never played as a striker (at the top level) and put him in the national team as striker. From where am I going to find a striker?” - Igor Stimac on finding a replacement for Sunil Chhetri.   -  PTI

Indian men's football team coach Igor Stimac believes it is time for the Indian Super League (ISL) to follow the AFC's rules regarding player composition.

The Croatian feels the India football team will struggle to develop a quality striker as long as foreign coaches in the ISL bank on goals from foreigners.

“My suggestion for everyone involved in football here is to follow the AFC rule of 3+1 for the top tier. It is the basic rule for number of foreign players (in the first XI).

“It is not strange that the most successful Asian countries are following the rule and that is why they have options for national team to have strikers,” he said during a media interaction here.

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For AFC competitions, the Asian body rules restrict the number of foreigners in the playing squad to four, of whom one must be from a member Asian nation. The ISL permits five foreigners on the pitch in the starting XI.

Stimac also spoke about the difficulty in developing strikers to replace Sunil Chhetri when the latter retires. “We will never find a replacement for him (Chhetri) while the situation is like this. I cannot take someone who has never played as a striker (at the top level) and put him in the national team as striker. From where am I going to find a striker?”

The ongoing ISL season's top six goal-scorers are all foreigners, while Bengaluru FC captain, Chhetri, is the first Indian at number seven. No other Indian figures among first 10 goal-scorers so far.

Stimac added: “Even the I-League allows five foreign players. We don’t have (Indian) strikers in I-league, except the Indian Arrows. We are in a big problem, nobody wants to consider that. We need to start changing the things in favour of the Indian national team.”

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He reasoned that the Indian team is strong defensively but is unable to win games because the goals are hard to come by. “India is a difficult team to beat. You bring anyone, it is going to be tough game, but we are not still team who can easily win the game.”

The side held Asian champion Qatar to a draw in a 2022 World Cup qualifier second round at Doha and the two sides are scheduled to clash in the return leg at home on March 26 in Bhubaneshwar. However, the game could be postponed owing to coronavirus fears.

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