I-League stars’ omission from Indian football team baffles Renedy Singh

Former Indian football team midfielder Renedy Singh is surprised by the omission of some of the I-League’s star performers from Stephen Constantine’s 32-man national team probables for the Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic.

football Updated: Mar 12, 2018 21:11 IST
Bhargab Sarmah
Bhargab Sarmah
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
I-League,India national football team,Stephen Constantine
Renedy Singh feels Michael Soosairaj and Sukhdev Singh – two players with impressive I-League campaigns - should have been selected for the Indian football team’s Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic. (AIFF )

Stephen Constantine, head coach of the Indian national football team, on Friday named 32 players in his list of probables for India’s last game in the Asian Cup qualifying against Kyrgyz Republic. Constantine’s selections immediately prompted sharp reactions from fans of social media, with the British tactician slammed for leaving out in-form players and including a number of players without adequate domestic game time this term.

Former national team midfielder Renedy Singh - a commentator in the I-League this season - too expressed his surprise at Constantine’s selection decisions, pointing out the absence of Michael Soosairaj and Sukhdev Singh – two players with impressive I-League campaigns – as a missed opportunity.

(Read | ‘Minerva Punjab’s I-League title victory a fillip to football in North India’)

“We have already qualified for the Asian Cup. Even if we lose this match, we will still play the tournament. This is a game where we should have put players like Soosairaj and Sukhdev. This was the best chance for these players to come in and see how international football is. We know that we hardly play friendlies against strong teams, so this was the best chance to try. If they are good enough in I-League, then they can (adapt to international football). But at the end of the day, it is the coach who decides,” he said in a telephonic chat.

The once-feared dead-ball specialist from Manipur remarked that playing international friendlies against weaker or lower-ranked teams is doing India little good.

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“I think we should play some good teams in friendlies. I am not saying Korea and Japan, but at least play some good middle-eastern team or countries like Indonesia, Thailand. What’s the point of celebrating wins against Nepal and Bangladesh? It doesn’t make sense to me,” Renedy quipped.

Neroca boost for Manipur football

With Neroca FC finishing second in their debut I-League campaign, Renedy described the club’s rise as ‘one of the best things to happen to football to Manipur and the northeast’.

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“Neroca’s success will hopefully inspire many players in the state now. I always say that we (Manipur) should be following Mizoram. What they have done has not happened overnight. You know in the Manipur league, they have a scoreboard on a bamboo stick.

“We all know that AMFA (All Manipur Football Association) has not been working well. Having I-League football in Imphal gives a big example for AMFA to see how it can organise a tournament. Starting from logistics to the stands, the way Neroca organised their home games was nothing short of how ISL games are organised,” he quipped.

Lauding Minerva Punjab FC for their maiden I-League title win, Renedy said the club’s win will prop up North India’s profile in the game.

However, with the fate of the I-League uncertain, Renedy said authorities should continue with simultaneous leagues for now if a merger between I-League and the Indian Super League doesn’t take place.

“For the last three seasons, we had the same set of players playing both I-League and ISL. The young players were sitting at home. At least this time we have seen young players getting chances. Of course the eventual goal is to have one league with 20 teams, but if that doesn’t happen for now, I think it’s best to have the two leagues running at the same time. I don’t want players from ISL to come back and eat up the young players’ chances.”

First Published: Mar 12, 2018 21:06 IST