Sabir Pasha is often associated to the golden times in Indian football. A multiple South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship winner, in India and Nepal, the former India Bank player had progressed as a powerful striker and superb passer before hanging up his boots.
However, Pasha was shattered as India lost the SAFF Championship final to Afghanistan by a two goal deficit and quickly condemned the lack of progress made by Indian football in the previous decade. “Where are our strikers?” queried the former international to drive home the point.
“We have foreign players in key positions and certainly in the striking zones, so how do you develop the skills of Indian players?” questioned Pasha.
His worries stem from the fact that nothing was done by the I-League to help the development of Indian players.
He also said that the reason Sunil Chhetri was so ineffective was because the team had no alternative to prevent the tight marking around the centre-forward. Pasha explained his disposition by pointing to the pairing of I.M. Vijayan and Bhaichung Bhutia both of whom complemented each other so well, that opposition players had a nightmare in marking the duo.
“I have also chipped in when the situation demanded,” chirped Sabir who also said that Jo Paul Ancheri too played in the role of an effective striker.
Sabir, a national youth coach, also said that the clubs need to their squads with equal emphasis on Indians manning important positions would result in the I-League becoming stronger and the Indian national team having a larger glut of talent coming through.
"Most of them need to play more often in the national squad to get a grip of the demands at this high level of competition,” concluded Pasha, emphasising the lack of exposure of key Indian players.
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