Igor Stimac has clearly stated that playing in the I-League doesn’t mean a player is ineligible for selection in the Indian national football team. The current 27-member squad preparing for the upcoming international friendlies against Oman and UAE does not have a single player from the I-League.
The Indian football team, comprising 27 members is currently undergoing a preparatory camp ahead of the two international friendlies against Oman and UAE, later this month. As a matter of fact, all the players are from the Indian Super League, with none from the I-League team making a cut. The turn of events has raised questions on whether the scouting cell is overlooking them at the cost of their ISL counterparts.
Indian national team coach Igor Stimac has been vocal regarding the same, with him stating that assistant coach Venkatesh is keeping a thorough watch on the I-League matches and have the statistics at their disposal. Not only that, they are treating the league as the platform for young players to develop themselves and get recognised by ISL teams, which doesn’t mean the players in the I-League is not eligible for national selection.
“Some people were worried that I didn’t follow I-League this year but I have Venkatesh there and he is involved in every single game so I have great numbers, statistics from the I-League. That is the way we follow. ISL is the professional part of Indian football, it is very well organised and from this part, the players are coming to the national team,” said Igor Stimac, during a chat with AIFF TV.
“From I-League, because it has a lower quality of football, I consider I-League for now as a filter for the ISL. It is a platform where young Indian players develop, grow and gets recognised by ISL clubs and signed by them. Which doesn’t mean that some of the I-League players can’t get on the national team list,” added the manager.
The Croat is also of the thought that when people talk about Indian football, they only get to see the ISL or the national team, but miss out on the grassroots programs that are brewing in the background. But, Stimac is confident that everyone would get the bigger picture anytime soon.
“People who see Indian football, they only see ISL or the national team playing but they cannot see those things happening behind the scenes, what we are doing with the grassroots program, the baby leagues with the youth development program. This work will be seen very soon,” opined Igor Stimac.