The players voiced their opinion of the current state of affairs of football in India.
There is a sense of uncertainty regarding the roadmap of league structure for football in India. The national team players on the sidelines of preparatory camp in Goa gave their thoughts on the situation relating to the Indian Super League and I-League.
Speaking to the Times of India Gurpreet Singh Sandhu expressed his concern and said, “Not everyone is fortunate as we are. We hear scary stories that FC Pune City are going to shut down and many I-League clubs disbanded. So, the players become insecure about their future and it becomes hard to focus on the game. The performance, too, drops.”
“I know everyone is working towards a solution, but it is high time the stakeholders should set aside their agenda and think about the players’ future” he opined.
Meanwhile, Sandesh Jhingan stressed about the lack of game-time for the players. He explained his case by saying, “The last time we had played for our clubs was back in March. So, it’s a long wait until the new season starts. The more we play, the more we will improve and chances of getting injured also reduce significantly. Fitness is a continuous process and playing regularly will mean that we can stay in rhythm.”
The players felt that the clubs should’ve sent their first-teams for pre-season tournaments like Durand Cup, where players can get enough match practice. “Being away from football for so long isn’t healthy. We should play 40-45 games per season.
There shouldn’t be a situation where we have to rue the lack of training and playing time. The domestic leagues have started in many countries who are in our World Cup qualifying group and we are yet to start our pre-season,” Gurpreet quipped.
Jhingan too agreed and added, “If I can have 45-50 games under my belt in a season, I will be more confident when I play for the national team.”
Midfielder Pronay Halder also chipped in and said, “You cannot stop talented footballers from getting noticed, whether he plays 40 or 20 games. But, a proper structure ensures that things are more streamlined. I believe that there is more professionalism coming in Indian football. But, we have a long way to go.”
Amidst all these uncertainities the Indian team are scheduled to play Oman in their first game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Guwahati on 5th September.