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Longer calendar fantastic for Indian football, say Marquez and Sahal

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Indian football calendar, which is set to expand to nine months from 2022-23 season onwards will be beneficial for the development of the sport in the country, believes Indian Super League-winning coach, Hyderabad FC’s Manolo Marquez.

Supporting the view of Hyderabad FC’s coach, Kerala Blasters FC’s midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad said that increased opportunities to play in competitive matches will contribute to the growth of footballers professionally in India.

Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), the organising body of the ISL in a recent meeting with all its clubs informed that the football season would begin in August and run until May next year, bringing it in line with football leagues around the world.

All ISL clubs will play a minimum of 28 competitive matches, which includes 20 in the ISL and 4 each in the two cup competitions – the Durand Cup and the Super Cup.

Hyderabad FC Head Coach Manolo Marquez welcomed the development and said a longer season is fantastic for Indian football.

“I think that a longer season with three competitions like Durand Cup, ISL, and Super cup and in our case four – qualification for AFC Cup will be fantastic for Indian Football. It’s impossible to get good development if you don’t train and if you don’t play. Six-seven months of offseason can be very long. There are better Indian players emerging after every season. They will appear more, which will increase the quality of the national team too,” Marquez told IANS.

The ISL will shift to a more weekend-centric schedule this season, going back to a home-and-away format to engage more with the fans.

“Supporters in the stadiums will be another amazing thing. We could see it in the ISL Final and in the Santosh Trophy for example. We know these factors will increase the level of Indian Football. These kinds of things take time, but hundred percent India will grow in the next years,” said Marquez.

Indian national team star Sahal Abdul Samad, who plays for Kerala Blasters felt increased game time for players is a step in the right direction.

“I think it will only help the players to improve as professional footballers. That’s what a player needs – more game time, more matches, and keeping the rhythm of playing football for a long time. It also cuts down the break which in India was very long. The gap between the seasons was too long so I think this will really help the players to be focused and be fit for the matches,” said the midfielder.

“As they get more playing time and more matches, the players will be fit enough. When the breaks are less, the players can really focus on football because that’s what we do, that’s our livelihood so we can be more focused on that. I really think it will help me as a player to be more focused on football and help me grow as a professional footballer,” Sahal added.

–IANS

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