Sunil Chhetri: Need a league where players get 50 or more games

Sunil Chhetri is also hopeful that the All India Football Federation is doing its best to solve the I-League-ISL conflict and help the growth of football in the country.

Sunil Chhetri recently surpassed Argentine star Lionel Messi to become the second-highest active international scorer.   -  PTI Photo

India and Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri says the "think-tanks" managing the sport in the country are working on establishing a league where the players will get to play at least 50 games every season.

“Yes, I would like see a league where most of the players are playing 50 or more games. There is a way to do it and I am sure the think-tanks in our country are working on it,” Chhetri said on the sidelines of the Intercontinental Cup on Friday.

Read: I-League clubs reluctant to give away AFC Champions League spot

The national team coach Igor Stimac had also spoken about this earlier, saying the leagues in the country should be giving a player around 50 matches in a season.

“Most of the top players in the world play 50 or more games in a season. The players need that many games to reach a level of excellence. This applies even for the forwards. In our scenario, names like Jobby (Justin), Manvir (Singh) or Farukh (Choudhary) need to play competitive matches no matter how well they train,” he said.

Matches for reserves

Chhetri, who recently surpassed Argentine star Lionel Messi to become the second-highest active international scorer — behind Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, also suggested that the reserve players should be playing matches alongside the official fixtures to stay match fit.

"I don’t know if I am going too ahead of myself by suggesting that we have a match among players who do not play the official match. For example, in the ISL if we have a Chennaiyin FC versus Bengaluru FC match, there can be a separate match among those players on either side who did not get a chance to be in the first team. This can be done the very next day of the official match. The teams will have both the venue and spectators ready. This will partially escalate the cost for the travelling side but that would not be unmanageable,” he said.

Also read: I-League clubs reluctant to give away AFC Champions League spot

“For examples, we have a very talented player in Manvir Singh who is not getting matches at FC Goa because there is a giant like Coro (Ferran Corominas). And when he comes to the national camp, the coach is not getting a match fit player. We have to think of a way to get over this.”

On I-League-ISL conflict

When asked about the I-League-ISL conflict, the 34-year-old said he is hopeful that the All India Football Federation is doing its best for the growth of football.

"I am sure people who are involved are doing the best. That is what I want to think of and not what I want to believe. Pointing fingers at anyone has never helped a cause. The basic objective will be to help Indian football grow. We can criticise each other, ask questions and can hold each other’s collars but eventually we have to trust each other as we all get together in our own capacities to see India football grow."

Also read: Bhaichung Bhutia urges AIFF to find a solution amidst uncertainty surrounding Indian football

He said much of the conflicts engulfing the sport in the country will be resolved if the people involved at various levels forsake their egos. "Ego is never nice. I have been a victim of it on lot of occasions in my career. Whenever I have used my ego over my sensibilities, I have failed. Ego is fine till the moment it is motivating you to do something good. The moment you bring it above that it is destructive and no one in the world has ever succeeded with that,” he said.