Indian football skipper Sunil Chhetri
Indian football skipper Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri credits ISL for helping Indian football

ANI | Updated: Jul 13, 2019 17:01 IST

Leeds [UK], July 13 (ANI): Indian football skipper Sunil Chhetri has praised the Indian Super League (ISL) for improving the state of football in the country. The tournament provided youngsters an opportunity to share the locker room with modern greats, he said.
"A lot of good changes (in the last five years). Just the way they (players) think about football has changed. Sandesh Jhingan is much more aware than any player that you can think about 10-15 years ago. He is much more knowledgeable, he is much more a machine, much more equipped to do well. Has ISL helped? Definitely," quoted Chhetri as saying.
"I told this to Sandesh (Jhingan) when we played against UAE, Bahrain, and Thailand, with due respect to these three teams, he didn't face a (Ferran) Corominas, Miku, Dimas (Delgado), (Manuel) Lanzarote or a (Bartholomew) Ogbeche. These are good top players, I'm not saying they are world class, but they are top players," he added.
The 34-year-old Chhetri advocated the need for playing more games to improving the mindset of young footballers in the country, saying he hopes that the country has one league where all players will be able to play 50 matches.
Chhetri said reserve days can be organised where all those players who did not feature on the regular match day, can play football.
"A small thing we can do is when a lot of young players don't get a chance in the ISL, we can have a reserve match. For example, if Chennaiyin plays Bengaluru FC and Jerry, (Anirudh) Thapa, Nishu (Kumar), Gursimrat did not get a chance to play, the day after, there should be a reserve game. It is easier because anyways they are travelling with 23 players, let them travel with 30 players.," Chhetri said.
The state of Indian football is going through a turmoil currently as ISL and I-League are locking horns to see who gets the status of top-tier in the country. Chhetri opined that pointing fingers won't help anybody as each and every person wants football to grow in India.
"There are people who are involved and are doing their best is what I think and more importantly, it is what I want to believe. Now, I have understood that you just have to take care of your own job and trust people. Pointing fingers has never ever helped anyone. We all want Indian football to go up. We all have to back each other," Chhetri said.
"Of course you are going to criticise each other and ask questions, but eventually, we should trust each other that yes we all are in this together. Criticising and giving hope, losing hope doesn't help. Egos are never nice. I have been a victim of it a lot of times in my career. Whenever I have used it, I have failed. Ego is only fine when it is working for your motivation," he added.
India is currently playing the InterContinental Cup and the side suffered a 2-4 loss in their first match against Tajikistan.
The Blue Tigers next take on North Korea in the tournament today. (ANI)