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ISL good for me, but Indian football needs longer league: Diego Forlan

InternationalISL good for me, but Indian football needs longer league: Diego Forlan

MUMBAI: In one of his columns for a leading gulf daily, Mumbai City FC marquee player Diego Forlan encourages other foreigners to come and play in the Indian Super League, describing how wonderful and competitive the tournament is.

But speaking to the media here on Tuesday, Forlan donned a different hat. Being more reflective, the Uruguayan and his teammate, India skipper Sunil Chhetri, spoke on how the 3-month duration of the tournament is detrimental for the development of football in the country.

“For me, it’s great. It’s good for me to come here and play for three months. I’m 37 years old, but you have to look for the future of Indian football. All leagues around the world are played for nine to ten months. In Europe, the top players play many games -around 60 games. It will be great for everyone to play one league and play the whole year, that will be an ideal scenario,” the former Manchester United player said.

He also pointed out that many Indian players aren’t playing in the league, and that’s something that needs to change.

“Some of the Indian players can play in ISL, but not everybody. They are training which is quite different from playing. The more you play official matches, the better you become. It’s that simple. Also, players shouldn’t have to change teams (I-League to ISL) in one season.”diegoforlan_afp

Chhetri, sitting beside Forlan, nodded in agreement. “One league is going to be good and everyone who’s involved with the sport in the country understands this,” he said.

Mumbai City FC sit pretty atop the ISL standings at the moment and were the first team to qualify for the semifinals, but Chhetri feels they cannot afford to be complacent in their final league game against Delhi Dynamos on Saturday.
“Being in good form, we’ve surely raised eyeballs aplenty so that makes our job a little tough,” he said, adding, “But we know that the semifinal is a different ball-game. If we sit back thinking that our job is done, it’ll be our biggest mistake.”
Mumbai finished seventh and sixth in the first two seasons respectively, and not many would’ve expected them to do so well this time around. When asked about what has changed this season, Chhetri said there is more unity in the squad and that players know what’s expected from them.
“The first season, I didn’t play. In the second season we had a good team, but just lost track. This time however, we have a very able coach and coaching staff. We are in sync. We are heading in the same direction and when this happens, more often than not, we will taste success,” he said, perhaps taking a dig at Nicolas Anelka, who coached the team last time around. The Frenchman had a number of fallouts with top players and was largely held responsible for the team’s poor run.

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