By Jagannath Chatterjee
New Delhi, Jan 8 (SocialNews.XYZ) Indian football's search for the next striker after Sunil Chhetri is on and while the skipper has himself said that he doesn't have too many games left in him when it comes to representing the country, the legendary Bhaichung Bhutia also recently pointed that the current skipper is not getting any younger. In such a scenario, former striker Biswajit Bhattacharya believes that AIFF must take the initiative to accelerate the search for India's next goal-scoring machine.
Speaking to IANS, Biswajit -- a brilliant striker of his time and a representative of the 1982 India squad that last played in the knockout round of the Asian Games -- said that there is lack of proper grooming system in the country and talent is not the issue. He wants the football federation to make a sincere effort.
"See, AIFF has only one junior team, i.e. Indian Arrows. You need at least two/three teams like that so that there is some competition, which will in turn make the overall development possible and that is the reason that promising footballers are not coming up," he said.
He went on to suggest that if AIFF engages foreign coaches for the developmental work and allows the home-grown coaches to join them that will then benefit Indian football.
"I am not saying that Indian coaches are not capable but then in foreign countries, they put much emphasis on grooming young talents and Indian coaches can learn from that style," he pointed.
The former striker also pointed at how the Indian Super League must also make an effort to groom strikers as it is one of the premier leagues in the country.
"ISL was started with a view to mainly groom the young Indian talents. The arrangement between the organizers and AIFF while starting the league was that each club will have age group teams where young Indian players will be groomed. To the best of my knowledge, except for Mumbai City FC, no other clubs are properly following the system. Most of the teams are just following the system on paper," he explained.
"In fact the situation is such at the moment is that when after the Afghanistan match, our new coach (Igor Stimac) wanted to know who are the next set of Indian players that he can look at, those in charge of the development process remain tightlipped."
According to Biswajit, Stimac has made his unhappiness known several times and also said that under the current circumstances, it is impossible to develop Indian football.
The former India player also agreed that the clubs, whether I-League or ISL, must take blame for the current scenario. "They are over-dependent on foreign strikers for scoring goals. That is one important reason that we have been talking about this for long without a solution," he said.