When Sunil Chhetri, a 39-year-old, outweighs each nationwide group ahead, by way of health and goal-poaching, it’s an apparent drawback Igor Stimac and his group want to suppose forward about.
It’s not rocket science to determine the over-dependence of the group on Chhetri for targets. The Blue Tigers rode on his winner towards Vanuatu within the Intercontinental Cup and he was the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball winner within the SAFF Championships.
Chhetri is the No. 9. However for the way lengthy?
Final season, the Bengaluru FC captain initially fell off the pecking order of head coach Simon Grayson’s beginning squad.
However his presence as the only real nationwide group striker (within the beginning XI) has turn out to be fait accompli, primarily as a result of no younger striker has been nearly as good as him.
The King’s Cup 2023, India’s subsequent worldwide sport within the September FIFA window, may simply present a silver lining right here.
“I need them to be champions. I believe it’s an ideal alternative for the group to carry out on the King’s Cup”Robin Singh on India’s possibilities on the King’s Cup 2023
Chhetri has requested to be neglected for private causes, and three forwards have been named within the squad — Manvir Singh, Rahul Okay.P and Rahim Ali, of which solely Manvir and Rahim are conventional strikers.
Robin Singh, who was himself India’s go-to No. 9 as soon as, caught up with Sportstar to debate who may simply be the answer to the issue.
“I believe every striker brings one thing completely different to the sport. I used to carry the physicality, and Sunil (nonetheless) brings the poacher’s intuition. Even Jeje (Lalpekhlua) introduced that when he used to play,” Robin says.
“With the brand new batch, we will begin with Ishan Pandita, he’s acquired the flexibility to make these runs behind (the defence). So, he constantly wants sport time to hone his craft,” he provides.
Ishan, nonetheless, has struggled with harm issues and has been lacking from motion for the final two worldwide tournaments, recuperating from a torn hamstring since June 2023.
Robin, who as soon as cast a formidable goalscoring-trio with Chhetri on the appropriate and Jeje on the left, between 2010 and 2016, quips that Manvir may simply be the panacea to the conundrum of discovering a frontrunner for the nationwide group’s assault.
“Somebody that I really feel, can play as a flexible striker, is Manvir,” he says.
Manvir, the previous Minerva Punjab ahead, not too long ago received the Durand Cup with Mohun Bagan Tremendous Large — his second trophy in six months, having received the Indian Tremendous League (ISL) title with the identical membership in March 2023.
“He’s sensible on the wing however as a No. 9, he simply wants that provide. We now have seen him rating targets in each event that he performs,” provides Robin.
The difficulty of not having a traditional ahead, additionally, might be partly attributed to the best way the ISL golf equipment function.
Within the final 5 years, groups who’ve received the league have all had their forwards as international gamers, be it Roy Krishna (for ATK) or Bartholomew Ogbeche (Mumbai Metropolis FC after which Hyderabad FC).
“Ultimately, it comes all the way down to what the coach desires and likewise, how onerous a participant works to combat for that spot. So, whenever you say the membership has to resolve on the No.9 (as an Indian), it additionally must be a matter of perception by the coaches,” Robin explains.
“I’ve been honoured sufficient to play for coaches who trusted me and I made certain that I repaid that belief, from Trevor Morgan to Ashley Westwood. My job was to make sure East Bengal or Bengaluru FC wins, not put Robin Singh on the scoresheet.”
There was some hope on the finish of the tunnel, although. Sivasakthi Narayanan, the prolific 22-year-old, has been a revelation for Bengaluru FC. However the tendency to prioritise a foreigner as a No. 9 continues to be an issue for Indian soccer.
Siva, too, has been held again by accidents. Stimac, in a press interplay earlier, stated that the ahead is not any extra the participant he was after selecting up an harm within the ISL final season.
It’s right here that King’s Cup will get context. Past the banal formalities of a world pleasant, it turns into the litmus check to examine who might be the subsequent No. 9.
Rahim, the blue-eyed prodigy from the FIFA Beneath-17 World Cup, was touted as one with immense potential however has not lived as much as the expectations — one thing he may get to alter this time, in Thailand.
India performs higher-ranked Iraq (ranked 70 to India’s 99) within the semifinal and both Lebanon or the host (Thailand) within the subsequent sport.
And Robin feels this group has sufficient potential to win the event.
“I need them to be champions. I believe it’s an ideal alternative for the group to carry out on the King’s Cup,” he says.
“We will undoubtedly beat Lebanon and Thailand. I’m fairly assured about that. The questions come up on Iraq however I believe the group has sufficient expertise to go on and beat anyone throughout their path.”
“Once I spoke to Igor, he stated no place is assured. If you happen to work onerous, you play for me, and that reveals,” he provides.
“I hope that we’re going to provide all the things on the pitch to do one thing good towards a powerful aspect like Iraq, who’re Arabian Gulf Cup champions,” stated Stimac within the pre-match media interplay.
India is scheduled to play within the Asian Video games with the nucleus of this group, whereby Chhetri will return.
However within the bigger scheme of issues, with the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers a few months away, Stimac will probably be busy on his drafting board, in search of options to interchange, maybe, India’s best-ever aim scorer.