Indian football coach Igor Stimac has appealed to the Indian Super League (ISL) clubs and coaches to support his request for more extended national camps in November and December. He said this is essential for the Indian team to prepare well for the World Cup Qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup, which are scheduled to start in January 2024.
Stimac said that the current schedule of the ISL, which runs from September to March, would force the national team players to miss some matches for their clubs if they join the national camp in Nov-Dec. He said this is unfair to both players and clubs and hopes for better coordination between the ISL and the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Stimac also applauded the ISL clubs and coaches for their contributions to the growth of Indian football and urged them to keep aiding the national teams in their efforts to compete against the top squads in Asia and the rest of the world. He claimed he wants to demonstrate the dedication with which Indian football should be approached and that he needs more time with them to help the players perform and gain confidence.
Stimac’s appeal comes at a time when Indian football is facing some significant challenges and opportunities. The Indian team is currently fourth in their World Cup Qualifying group, with six points from six matches. They have two more matches to play in June, against Oman and UAE. They need to finish third or higher in their group to advance to the third round of the World Cup Qualifiers and secure a direct spot in the AFC Asian Cup 2024.
The Indian team will also participate in the AFC U23 qualifiers in October and the Asian Games in November. These tournaments are important for the development of young players and for building a strong pool of talent for the future.
However, Stimac’s request has faced resistance from some ISL clubs, who have refused to release their players for the national camp. According to reports, Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan have denied permission for their players to join the camp, citing contractual obligations and pre-season preparations. The AIFF is trying to resolve the issue amicably with the clubs, but Stimac has expressed disappointment in their stance. Recently Stimac was praised for how he implanted the fighting spirit in the Indian Football team, which made India win two major inter-continental trophies, and also, after 9 years, India is going to play in the Asian games, which is going to start in October.
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