Shyam Thapa: Time to hand more chances to domestic players

The former India international opined that more local players should get opportunities in ISL and I-League…

The foreigner’s cap rule in the Indian Super League (ISL) has been up for debate in the recent past, with most experts opining that the time has arrived to reduce the number of overseas players.

Even Croatian head coach Zlatko Dalic threw his weight behind diminishing the number as it would help more domestic talents to get the required exposure.

The All India Football’s Federation’s (AIFF) Technical Committee Chairman, Shyam Thapa also believes that it is the right time to cut down on foreign players and promote more domestic players. 

It has to be noted that the clubs have to adhere to the 3+1 rule of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in order to play in the continental competitions. Most experts, including national team coach Igor Stimac, have called for this rule to be implemented throughout ISL and I-League.

“The AFC has put in much thought behind formulating the 3+1 rule. It must be accepted that Indian players are playing much better than before because they have been rubbing their shoulders with quality foreign players. But at the same time, it is the right moment to rethink our strategy. Now, we should be providing more minutes to the local players to give them the required exposure. 

“The ISL has been there for six years now. In the initial years, several football legends and World Cup winners used to come. Even though they arrived at the twilight of their career, nobody can question their quality and the knowledge they imparted to our players.

“But now that standard (quality of foreign players) has dropped considerably. So now, it is better to give more chances to our own players,” stated the legendary India international to Goal. 

Thapa also voiced his concern about the increasing number of Coronavirus cases in India which is severely affecting the footballing landscape of the country. There are no training camps, youth leagues or competitions happening. The U17 Women’s World Cup has been postponed and so has India’s World Cup qualifiers.

Thapa feels that all stakeholders must prepare themselves for the worst and plan well for the future.

“It is a matter of grave concern. Nobody knows when football action will return to India. Unless the government permits nothing can be done. Most clubs have taken a financial hit. But at the same time, we must continue to plan for the future so that we are prepared for any eventuality,” he said.