Indian coach Stephen Constantine said that he would like to see more Indian players getting to play regularly for their respective Indian Super League franchises. “If you are asking me what I want, I want 11 Indian players (playing every game),” said the Englishman.
“I don’t want to go to an ISL game and see seven foreign players. I’m the Indian national team coach I don’t care what the foreigners do,” said Constantine on the sidelines of an India U-23 preparatory camp for the upcoming South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship. Apart from the likes of Anirudh Thapa and Germanpreet Singh, most of the players in the camp struggled to get regular appearances for their respective ISL franchises in the 2017/18 season.
Constantine also said that the revised rules for the number of foreigners that an ISL franchise will be allowed to keep might help in getting more Indian players on the pitch. “I think this season they will (get more game time) and let’s hope that they take that opportunity. I told these boys last night that they are not in the team to make up the numbers but to make a difference. This is hopefully what they will do.”
It was earlier reported that an ISL franchise may be allowed to keep only seven players in the squad (as opposed eight last season), off which five could take the field at any given time. This is a significant reduction considering that as many as 11 foreign players were allowed in the team during the inaugural 2014 season.
Constantine also said that he didn’t mind Bengaluru FC not releasing two of their players for the preparatory camp. “The way I see it, Bengaluru FC are representing India in the AFC Cup. It is important our clubs participate in these tournaments. We are preparing from now for the SAFF. I would also say this is a preparation for the Asian Cup as well. To allow those two players to play in an AFC competition is good for Indian football. I am a hundred percent behind that and if there were other clubs in the AFC competition who needed players for them of course I would do the same for them.”