Igor Stimac: Difference between I-League and ISL is tradition

Getty Images
The newly-appointed India head coach was addressing the media for the first time...

India senior team head coach Igor Stimac felt that the difference between the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL) was tradition.

The Croatian was commenting on the two top-tier leagues that run parallelly in India at a media briefing in New Delhi, his first since taking over the Blue Tigers.

There have been calls from several factions to merge the two leagues or at least find a roadmap where one of them functions as the sole top division league in the country. The 51-year-old felt that the two leagues should come up with a solution which benefits Indian football at large.

"We need to work together. The ISL is a privatized league and the owners who are investing money will expect to get the money, which is normal. I-League has been there for many years and I-League has something which ISL cannot buy. That is tradition. You cannot buy tradition. It will take 100 years to become a traditional league for ISL.

The former Croatia coach also stated that he will watch both leagues with a keen interest, given that the ISL has the top players and staff while the I-League develops potential stars.

"So we need to work on those things and find a window to put these things together. I-League clubs must speed up their progression and ISL clubs must acquire the tradition which is nowhere to be seen now. ISL is where most of the competitive staff are present and it is in I-League where most of the young players are developing themselves. That's good for me. I will watch both the leagues. I will give them my opinion but it is not my decision to take how these leagues will be organised," said Stimac.

Doru Isac

Technical Director Doru Isac, who was present during the briefing, also weighed in on the debate.

"It is not a conflict. There is nobody in my department in the federation (AIFF) who thinks it as a conflict. We are together. I don't think in my mind that this is ISL or I-league. But as we mentioned, we must work together to create a positive environment. As a Technical Director, I can say that it is no good to have 1200 games. The quantity is not important but it is the quality. Say, if the players run 8.5 km in a game, it’ll be difficult for us in the international games, where a player runs 13.2 km. We have to have a global understanding of all the leagues and we need to work together to match the level," expressed Isac. 

Stimac is currently holding a camp in New Delhi where he is preparing the national team for the upcoming King's Cup in Thailand