Contrary to the recent voices demanding reducing the number of foreign players in the Indian Super League, champions ATK’s coach Antonio Habas feels the present arrangement is necessary to improve both the level of players and football in the country. Also Read - I Stand With Everyone in India And Around The World in These Challenging Times: Sunil Chhetri
India national coach Igor Stimac has advised ISL to follow the Asian Football Confederation’s policy of four foreigners in starting eleven that includes one Asian player as well. He said the limitation is necessary if India hopes to produce more players of the quality of Sunil Chhetri – the 10th all-time leading scorer in international football’s history. Also Read - PK Banerjee: Character who carried essence of Kolkata Maidan
But Habas disagrees. Also Read - India Football Legend PK Banerjee Dies at 83
“I believe that the number of foreign players must be maintained, at least 3-4 more seasons… keeping the current format. This will increase the level of the players and Indian football,” Habas told IANS.
Spaniard Habas, who has guided ATK to two ISL titles is currently in his home in Madrid where is he currently undergoing mandatory quarantine of 15 days in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, an ISL team is permitted to field as many as five foreign players.
Habas feels the current system can be utilised to improve the standards of Indian players. “We have to work this time at clubs’ academies so there’s more Indian players with high performance,” Habas said. “I think the Indian players’ level has increased. In 2014, many Indian players were professionals but now many Indian players are professionals 24 hours a day.”
He added, “In addition, I believe that the arrival of foreign players and coaches in football has had a major impact on the technical, tactical and professional training of the players of India; in today’s and young players at the clubs academies.”
With Mohun Bagan merging with ATK, Habas will continue to be the head coach of the three-time ISL champions and is looking forward to the next season.
“My professional commitment will be maximum, my thanks to ATK for trusting our work and I will try to live up to the Mohun Bagan story and its fans,” he said.
He continued, “I’ve seen some Mohun Bagan players. I think Kibu (Vicuna, Mohun Bagan head coach) has done a good job. We’re seeing the possibility that some player can join the team, but we’ll decide later.”