The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League (ISL) saw 11 teams locking horns with each other over 115 matches to crown a winner. As a result, ISL clubs were promised a mere 20 games (22 in the case of semi-finalists and 23 in the case of finalists) a season.
However, that will have to change from 2021. AFC guidelines require teams to play a minimum of 27 matches in their domestic leagues to get a slot in the Champions League. The continental body granted ISL a special one-year exemption owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is unlikely to be extended.
The total number of foreign players on the pitch is also set to decrease from five to four. More matches and fewer foreign players in ISL will give more opportunities to Indian players to showcase their talent. Indian football team defender Ashutosh Mehta totally supports these rule changes.
"Yeh toh hona hi chahiye (These must happen). The more opportunities the Indian players get, the better it is to showcase their talent. The Indian players don't have much difference against their foreign counterparts. The difference is in the mindset. What's the difference between Sunil Chhetri and other players? It's his mentality that makes him the G.O.A.T. And, that comes with experience," Ashutosh Mehta told Sportskeeda.
Glan Martins has a chance to come on the national team list: Indian football team defender Ashutosh Mehta
Ashutosh Mehta was especially impressed with Glan Martins' performance in the AFC Champions League. The former Churchill Brothers defender initially signed for ATK Mohun Bagan at the start of the season but was mainly relegated to the bench.
FC Goa signed him on loan from the Mariners in the January transfer window and Glan helped his new team reach the ISL semi-finals. In the AFC Champions League, he dictated possession at the center of the park as the Gaurs finished third in the group stages.
"Take the example of Glan Martins. He was playing for ATK (Mohun Bagan) and not getting a chance. But, the way he played in the AFC (Champions League) I was so impressed with him. He gave a top performance, so he has a chance to come on the national team list. So the Indians just need an opportunity. With foreigners reduced and more matches happening, this will only give Indians more opportunity," Ashutosh Mehta signed off.
The next ISL season reportedly starts in September with teams beginning their pre-season in August. However, the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic might alter the plans.
What do you think about the new rules reportedly coming into effect from next ISL season? Sound off in the comments section.