BENGALURU/KOCHI: COME 2021-22 Indian Super League season, the competition will move into a new phase where teams will be allowed to field seven Indian players and four foreigners in the playing XI. This decision (3+1), which was approved on Monday, will shy away from its present rule with a maximum of five foreigners, meaning more chances to talented Indian players.
Mandar Tamhane, Bengaluru FC CEO, has welcomed the move. “If you are thinking about the development of football, this is what you want. More Indian players on the pitch at the top level is always a good thing and they are going to get more exposure. It is automatically a big plus point.”
However, it is important to note that the 2020-21 season will still be played with the old rule of five foreigners. With many ISL clubs having already initiated their process of making new signings, it is sensible on behalf of the organisers to implement this policy only from 2021-22 season.
Teams like Bengaluru have been quite busy behind the scenes. They have already provided contract extension to some of their foreign recruits, including Juanan Gonzalez, Dimas Delgado and Erik Paartalu. “Once there is clarity with the rules well in advance, then anyone can make those changes. If you tell me to play four foreigners for the coming season, then I am not okay with it as there will be too little time to react to build my squad as I have already started the process. But, when it is one year down the line, we will be able to manage it, no problem,” said the CEO. Meanwhile, Kerala Blasters assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed also welcomed the move.
“This is the rule put in place by AFC for all their competitions and so it will be good when our teams go to participate in those tournaments. More importantly, it will also give an opportunity for the Indian players and with each team playing an extra Indian player, the talent pool for the national team will also become larger,” said Ahmed.
The former Indian footballer said that while an extra foreigner on the pitch would have added to the quality of football, in the bigger picture, the 3+1 rule was the right approach.
“Teams have to make sure that the quality doesn’t drop and so they will try to scout better players, spend wisely in the transfer market and make the right kind of additions.”