Indian Super League 'needs five foreigners': Bhaichung Bhutia

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia is not impressed with the quality of the Indian Super League (ISL), stating that the league will benefit by allowing an additional foreigner in the playing eleven.

Bhutia is particularly worried about the lack of prolific Indian strikers in the ISL, with no Indian in the top-five goal-scorers of the tournament.   -  THE HINDU

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia is not impressed with the quality of the Indian Super League (ISL), stating that the league will benefit by allowing an additional foreigner in the playing eleven. At present, ISL teams are allowed to field four overseas footballers.

“The quality of this ISL season is not the same as before. I think the tournament needs five foreigners. We may lose one Indian player in the process, but it is important to have a high-quality tournament. If you don’t have quality football, people will not watch the matches,” Bhutia said, at Healthium Medtech’s inauguration of the ‘Sport of Life’ initiative with the Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust (ABFT) here.

“Right now, there is no difference between ISL, I-League and I-League second division. The standard is almost the same. I-League and I-League second division teams can defeat ISL teams. If United Sikkim gets good money and signs five quality foreigners, we will challenge the best ISL teams,” Bhutia, the United Sikkim FC owner, said.

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Bhutia is particularly worried about the lack of prolific Indian strikers in the ISL. There is no Indian in the top-five goal-scorers of the tournament, and ATK Mohun Bagan’s Liston Colaco is the lone Indian in the top-10.

“It is unfortunate that Indian players are not in the top-five goal-scorers of the ISL. Only Colaco has been doing well. It’s not a good sign for Indian football,” Bhutia said.

The 45-year-old stated that India has a great chance to seal a spot in the main draw of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. In the third round of qualifying to be held later this year, India has been slotted in an
easy group, alongside Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia.

“We have been very lucky with the grouping. All the teams in our group are ranked lower than us. We are playing the matches at home as well. There can be no excuse for not qualifying," Bhutia said.

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