I.M. Vijayan welcomes ISL new regulation

Bino George, former coach of Gokulam Kerala who is in talks with an ISL team, feels the new ratio of having seven Indian players in the XI will boost local talent.

I.M. Vijayan believes increasing the number of Indians in the playing XI to seven from six is a move in the right direction   -  Prashant Nakwe

Former Indian captain I.M. Vijayan believes the new ISL regulation — increasing the number of Indians in the playing XI to seven from six — is a move in the right direction.

From next season, a team can only field four foreigners in an ISL match.

“The ISL administrators have done the right thing,” Vijayan told Sportstar on Wednesday. “That is the way forward for Indian football.”

Bino George, former coach of Gokulam Kerala who is in talks with an ISL team, also thinks the new ratio is the right one for India’s premier football league. “But I hope there will be no further reduction in the number of foreigners,” he said. “The ISL has become what it is because of the quality players from abroad. Now that there will be seven Indians in the XI, it is a boost to local talent.”

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Vijayan said the change in rules was bound to benefit the Indian players. “At the moment there is nothing that will help an Indian footballer more than the experience of playing in the ISL,” said the former striker who is among the fastest goal-scorers in international football.

“If our national team is performing better these days, the ISL is the main reason for that.”

Talking of the national team, he said he was impressed with the way it fared thus far at the World Cup qualifiers in Doha. After losing by a solitary goal to Qatar in the first match, India defeated Bangladesh 2-0 on Monday.

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“I thought the Indians fought hard against Qatar and were superb against Bangladesh in that must-win encounter,” said Vijayan. “Sunil Chhetri was brilliant. I loved both the goals he scored against Bangladesh.”

He lauded Chhetri for his service over the years. “I have always admired his commitment and dedication,” Vijayan said.

“But he is now 36 and he may be available for another two years still. India needs to think of new players, though it will be difficult to find another striker like Chhetri.”

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