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Faltering Forwards: The Struggles of Indian Strikers in Football

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Faltering Indian Forwards

After the successful conclusion of the SAFF championship, coach Igor Stimac said he was not happy even though India won the tournament. When he was asked the reason he was quite direct and said " The players are still carrying the bad habits from ISL, when they have to shoot they pass and vice-versa". By this, he particularly meant the Indian forwards except maybe for Sunil Chettri.

Let us see why he made such a statement. India played two back-to-back tournaments and won both of them. Team India got a 1-month long camp before the tournaments. Throughout the tournaments, we saw the Indian forward players make silly mistakes and were poor even in basic-level decision-making after a month-long camp. The reason as stated by the gaffer is mostly because the Indian forwards especially 'Attacking Midfielders & 'Strikers' don't get enough game time in ISL teams or because they are often made to play different positions and on a different role than their natural traits. The above-stated phenomenon is quite true and several examples can be laid out.

The Indian forwards are not willing to move out of the country and play as 1st choice players in foreign leagues as they won't get the humongous amount there. ISL clubs are paying huge sums for Indian players which they actually do not deserve according to global standards. But in ISL clubs the Indian forwards are always 2nd choice/3rd choice in the squad as most clubs sign quality and experienced foreign forwards. So the only way out for Indian football will be that the Indian players need to move out of their comfort zone, play their initial few years in foreign leagues as starters, gain experience, and then move back to India where then they might get to start in ISL clubs.

Why do the Indian players hesitate to move outside? It is because most of them come from poor socio-economic backgrounds and hence pressure remains on them to secure their and their family's future. So it is related to the socio-economic status of India. This can be solved if the government & the AIFF provide some kind of social security to a select few talented forwards.

Not getting enough game time is destroying young talented forwards in India which is the most important issue today as the question arises again and again Who would take the command of the forward line after Sunil Chettri in the Indian National team? With this note, I would like to end this here and hope things get better in the future.


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