ISL 2017: Mumbai City FC head coach Alexandre Guimaraes explains why he won't play more than six Indians
What’s the story?
Mumbai City FC head coach Alexandre Guimaraes, speaking at a presser on Thursday, said that while he tried many combinations in the pre-season, he is more in favour of making full use of the five foreigners’ quota on matchdays and would opt not to field more than the mandatory six Indians in the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season.
In case you didn’t know
ISL’s rules were changed after the 2016 season, making it mandatory for the teams to keep atleast six Indians on the pitch during the entire length of a match. Earlier a matchday squad had to have a minimum of five Indians and a maximum of six non-Indian players.
This season the marquee player rule was also abolished while each franchise was allowed to sign a maximum of eight foreigners.
The heart of the matter
AFC competitions such as the Champions League and the AFC Cup, need teams to play a maximum of four foreigners, one of whom needs to be from an AFC nation. When Guimaraes was asked if he would go ahead with the AFC rule of playing just foreigners, depending on a match situation, the gaffer said, “We have to take it ahead step by step."
He added, "During the preseason I tried different combinations but if our board has got good foreign players, then we have to make use them. On top of that these players are also very eager to play. What we have done different is to get Indian goalkeepers because we want to develop them.”
The head coach’s focus is to play an Indian underneath the sticks at any cost so that he has five foreigners in the outfield. He said that Mumbai has two of the best goalkeepers of the country in Amrinder Singh and Arindam Bhattacharya, and said that the third choice custodian, Kunal Sawant will learn from the experience of practising with his senior teammates.
In the past, we have seen FC Goa’s former coach and Brazilian legend Zico fielding more Indians than foreigners and raising his voice about the need for more local players in the starting XI. However, Guimaraes can’t be entirely wronged because apart from the development of the Indians, he has to remain focused on deriving the best results for his team.