The Indian national team Igor Stimac on a virtual interaction with journalists and shed light on his tenure as a coach, and answered some grueling questions about the way forward for Indian football.
Last year, the Indian Super League announced that they would be implementing the 3+1 foreign player rule on the pitch. As per the regulation, a team can sign up to 6 foreign players in the squad, including a compulsory Asian player, but only four of them are eligible to play at once.
"Most of the ISL clubs have foreign players that play at the key positions of the field, the center backs, and a center forward,"- said Igor, and continued that the change in rules will give Indian players to play at key positions and it will benefit them in their growth. The players will show the benefits of the rule change, but no one knows how early it will be, as this is a process.
Both AFC Champions League and AFC Cup have the same rule in place for foreign players, and the coach explained how a team like FC Goa faced many difficulties because of this rule. The Gaurs had to change their style of play because they did not want to be embarrassed by a higher-ranked team and hence opted to play more defensive football. The results were three draws and three losses, and fans appreciated it all around the country.
Igor Stimac also said that while implementing the four-foreigner rule, the clubs should use Indian players as a backup to the foreign players. "Teams should not have two players of the same kind. Another foreigner should not replace an offensive foreign player; teams should open the doors for Indian players. " This is how Indian players will grow and will be allowed to play a vital role for their team. He also mentioned that most players in the national team do not have the responsibility to score or assist for their clubs and hence lack experience at the international stage.
"The national team is not a factory of players. It benefits from the products of the ISL and I-League."
The rule change came as a part of a long-term plan, and the FSDL and the AIFF implemented it after many discussions. It will also help the ISL teams prepare better when playing in continental competitions like the AFC Cup or the AFC Champions League.
Igor also mentioned that we should look at a system in the future where I-league teams would be playing without foreigners.