After a very poor outing against Bangladesh, lots of questions have been raised about the quality of players for the coach Igor Stimac to choose from.
It has been pointed out that the team’s inability to perform under clutch moments is due to the lack of inexperience in the squad. The clash against Bangladesh was a massive game with a lot riding on it. Nothing prepares one for this moment. Soon, the likes of Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin FC), Sahal Abdul Samad (Kerala Blasters) and Ashique Kuruniyan (Bengaluru FC) found out what it’s like to play in front of 61,000-plus fans and that seems to have shattered the confidence in them.
Players from East Bengal and Mohun Bagan deal with such pressure week in and week out due to the large, passionate fan base of those clubs. "It's very difficult to play in front of such a huge crowd. Not an easy task. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan players are used to this because of the Derby clashes," Lalrindika Ralte told The Telegraph. "There is so much pressure on delivering every day. We have got used to that," he added.
Weirdly, there is not a single player from the I-League, which is en route to becoming the 2nd Division league in Indian football, in the national team squad. Could it be because they are not good enough? Or is it the failure to identify players with real potential due to poor scouting? Stimac said that he would keep an eye on the Indian Super League (ISL), which doesn’t mean he will not watch the I-League. There are quality players in the I-League, no doubt about it.
Former East Bengal captain Alvito D'Cunha feels Stimac should now call I-League players also for camps. "Since in ISL there is no relegation it's not that competitive. Whereas I-League clubs give their all to save relegation. The real test is in I-League. I would like our national coach to have a look at the I-League players also," he was quoted saying.
What about players such as Ralte or Lalram Chullova? "Ralte is a natural left-footed player. A player like him will give Stimac a lot of options. I would also like to see Mumbai City FC's Subhasish Bose as the left back instead of Mandar Rao Dessai, who is an attacking midfielder," Alvito said.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo, one of the experts for the official broadcaster, on the other hand, advocated patience. "Of course Stimac should call and I'm sure he will. Look, he has not seen the leagues yet. Many players will catch his eye. There is a lot of potential. We have to be very patient," he told the daily.