India head coach Igor Stimac feels that the short domestic season is a major setback for Indian Football. Stimac requested journalists to interview his players and note the change that has come about.
“You will see how much they enjoy training sessions and the games.“ The coach said to the press. “Results are not always as we wished, but I can see happiness. I can see they are enjoying, because we are trying to play football“.
The Croatian was under pressure up until his side clinched the SAFF Championship trophy. India has registered only 6 wins in 22 games under Stimac. All such wins come against sides low in the rankings, counting three wins last week.
The cloud of inconsistency has shrouded the Indian team. They have a famous stalemate against Qatar and defended valiantly with 10-men against the Asian champions. They have then been unsuccessful at defeating Bangladesh and Afghanistan on two occasions, with Sri Lanka and Nepal once.
Stimac responsible for developing Indian Football
Stimac continued saying, “The fans and the media all want change to happen overnight, but that’s not happening in football, particularly with the national team. We cannot have the budget to buy players (unlike clubs). We have to rely on what we get from the domestic league“.
Appointed about two years ago, Stimac was given the responsibility to bring attractive, expansive football and take India to the Asian Cup. The Blue Tigers still walk the road, but the Croatian warns that progress will be slow unless changes are made in domestic competitions.
Igor Stimac pointed out that because of the pandemic, they could not depend on an eight/nine-month season. This was proving to be a major issue.
The Indian Super League, the highest tier of Indian football, welcomes 11 teams over 20 games in four months. Other such divisions have even fewer games. However, ISL has come up with an objective of switching to 30 games. Each time would play the other three times.
The emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic implies that now matches will be played differently. Games will take place inside a bio-secured bubble for a second consecutive year running in Goa.
Could change be on the horizon?
“Unless we have changes, players will come to national camps after (being) off-season. That does not help. It’s a terrible waste of time on strength conditioning programmes and upgrade the fitness level of players, instead of working on the game plan and tactical points.“
The Indian coach feels that the lack of competitive games is a handicap. He says that a short season impacts muscle strength. When players are in an uncontrolled and unsupervised training process for 10 months in a year, they cannot be expected to perform at a high level. More so, injuries are more likely.
India will not be playing any international games in November. Instead, they will assemble to get ready for Round 3 of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers in February.
Stimac ended by saying, “We need to sit down with other stakeholders in our domestic competitions and discuss how much time the national team will get for preparations for the qualifiers. If we get enough time to prepare, we can expect good football and good results. Otherwise, it’s a gamble“.
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