The Indian Super League (ISL) has witnessed, over the years, an increase in the number of Indian players fielded per match. The inaugural season saw every team field a minimum of five Indian players which was raised to six in 2017-18. The most recent amendment to the regulation mandates clubs to field a minimum of seven Indian players at once. Football Monk tries to take a look at the new regulation as we exclusively spoke to top ISL managers Owen Coyle and Antonio Lopez Habas.

Fielding seven Indians at one time is a must

With a view to bring constant improvement in India’s top-tier footballing event, the latest change in guidelines was introduced. The league witnessed a surge in the performance of Indian players across all clubs involved in recent years. This was down to an earlier amendment that upped the minimum number of Indians to be fielded from five to six.

The performances of players like Jeakson Singh, Apuia, Akash Mishra, and others caught the attention of the masses. Development of these players has contributed to the overall cause of the Indian national team in recent times. Thus the amendment came as part of the Indian footballs pledge to move forward in the next level.

Owen Coyle’s opinion  

Owen Coyle ISL
Image via Jamshedpur FC

Jamshedpur FC head coach Owen Coyle has welcomed the new regulation in place, citing the need of developing young talents. He expressed, “I think it’s a great idea and a wonderful opportunity for the Indian players, particularly young players. They’ll need to step forward and grasp their chances.”

Regarding the effect on the national team, he opined, “This will help the continued growth and development of Indian football. It’ll also help Igor (Stimac) and the national team. So, we must put all our efforts to help the young Indians fulfill their potential at Jamshedpur FC.”

Antonio Habas’ take on the new rule

ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas too agreed that the new regulation brings a lot of positives in Indian football. The nurturing of young Indian talents at the biggest stage of Indian football will definitely be worth it. He remarked, “It is good for Indian football, but at the same time the arbitral collective should be improved.” Habas believes, ” The league has been doing great for the last seasons and this step further enhances the positive process”.

Image via ATK Mohun Bagan

Mariner’s Boss added that match refereeing should be also improved in the upcoming days. He thinks video assistance can play a big role in it. “VAR should be implemented so that everything becomes fairer,” he said referring to the numerous contentious on-field calls made in the ISL last season.

Author’s take

Providing exposure to the young guns from India in the Indian top tier will surely bolster the supply line to the national team in a long time. The more game time they get, the better for the national team as India looks forward to a brighter future at the Asian stage.

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