Over the years it has been observed that India’s football trouble lies in the lack of ‘goal-machines’. There have been individual greats but never a pool of players from where a few could be chosen.
Bhaichung Bhutia’s ‘big worry’
Former Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia stressed on the lack of a striker once Chhetri calls it quits. When Bhutia and Chhetri played together they struck a “fearsome partnership” for India.
India has produced great stars in the form of Bhutia, I.M. Vijayan and Sunil Chhetri. The team, still lacked a pool of players. This has always remained a cause of concern for Indian football.
Jeje Lapekhlua and Balwant Singh could have formed a formidable partnership with Chhetri. Bhutia believes that a string of injuries marred their career to a great extent. Expectations were high rise from these two talented individuals but they could not be impactful.
To be an impactful striker, consistency is the key to success. Bhutia said that it is too difficult to answer why Indian strikers lose their way.
Can AIFF play a role?
The Indian football legend believes that AIFF, at the top level cannot do a lot. At the top or elite level, the onus falls on the players. Bhutia believes that the federation cannot do much. Players are professionals who are paid by their respective clubs and want them to win trophies.
Performing consistently is an important aspect. The clubs pay salaries so it is not the federation’s right to call the shots. Bhutia also feels that the federation cannot decide which player the club needs to play.
Bhutia believes that there will be a dearth of a top striker once Chhetri hangs his boots. The option lies in creating a pool of players. Once this is done clubs will have good talent in the scheme of things. The focus should begin at the grassroots level. This will eventually lead to players coming up the ranks. There need to be specialised training programmes for strikers. Strong attacking techniques is the need of the hour.
Can AIFF follow BCCI’s footsteps?
Former cricketers Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly are a part of the BCCI set-up. Bhaichung Bhutia said if former footballers are capable then they should join AIFF. He further stressed that it is not an easy thing. If people are willing then they should come forward, associate themselves and help Indian football grow.