New Delhi, Dec 17 (PTI) The move to disallow foreigners in the second division league and revamp of Santosh Trophy would broaden the talent pool for the selection of the national team, according to All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey.
The AIFF executive committee in September took the decision to restrict second division league to Indian players while the national federation signed an MoU with its Saudi Arabian counterpart to stage the final stages of the Santosh Trophy in West Asian country.
“There is a dearth of top Indian players in key positions as these are all occupied by foreigners in the ISL and I-League. Hence, this move will help in opening the path for more Indian players to hone their skills at this level,” Chaubey said in the 2022 Review e-Magazine of the AIFF.
“We are confident that this, along with our focus on the inter-state senior championship, the Santosh Trophy, will help throw up a larger pool of talent for the selection of the national squad.” The second division league will have 15 teams from across the country, plus the reserve teams from the ISL and I-League teams, with the final rounds being played on a home-away basis.
The earlier provision of having a certain number of under-22 players in the squad will no longer be mandatory from this season.
The Santosh Trophy will be competed among 32 states, while the semifinals, third-place playoff and the final will be in either in Jeddah or Riyadh.
“That gives over 100 players and coaching staff the experience and opportunity to travel abroad and play in international facilities,” the AIFF chief said.
“This year, the format of the Santosh Trophy has been changed in order to provide more matches to states and also avoid playing the same opposition every year.
“These are initial steps and perhaps the first of many more that the AIFF will usher in; we hope this will be a good start on a long path to international success,” he added.
Chaubey said another important decision taken by the new executive committee which took charge in September was the promotion of I-League winners to the ISL, subject to fulfilling the club licensing criteria.
“This will make the ISL and I-League a dynamic duo of club competitions at the highest level,” he said.
Chaubey said before achieving the “ultimate goal” of qualifying for the World Cup, India must be successful at the Asian level.
Source: PTI News