The stage is all set for the Indian Football Team to get some match practice ahead of 2019 Asia Cup as they face Marcello Lippi’s China in a friendly match at Suzhou Sports Complex near Shanghai. The two teams have faced each other 21 years ago, in the Nehru Cup at Kochi in which China beat India 2-1. The two nations faced each other 17 times, out of which China won 12, while five games ended in stalemate. China is currently one of the strongest team among the two as they are ranked 76 in FIFA ranking, while India is placed at 97th.
Today’s game will also give a clear indication as to how the Chinese Football League and Indian Super League have been contributing towards the success of their respective national side.
The case of both the leagues is almost the same. China started their football journey with Chinese Jia-A League, but due to match-fixing allegation Chinese Super League was formed from 2004 and Jia-A League was demoted as a second division league. In India, The All India Football Federation started with the National Football League started in 1997 which was later named as I-League in 2007. However, the federation decided to form a new league i.e Indian Super League for the development of the game in the country allowing the new teams to sign some promising talents. The growth of ISL has put I League on the backfoot.
Coaches are an important part of any team and football teams worldwide try and sign some of the best in the business to bring glory to the club. The CSL is also not an exception with 11 clubs out of the 16 being coached by foreign coaches. The league has the likes Fabio Cannavaro, Bernard Schuster, Johan Cryuff’s son Jordi Cruyff who are currently coaching in the league.
Even the ISL clubs have been signing some of the big names to take over the reigns of the teams involved in the league. The likes of Zico, Roberto Carlos, Marco Matterazzi and Gianluca Zambrotta have tried their hands in coaching the Indian clubs.
Chinese Super League has some of the best stars playing club football in their country. Players from some of the best leagues are plying their trade. The likes of Oscar, Hulk Ramires from Brazil, Italians Graziano Pelle, and Eder, Portuguese Jose Fonte, Ricardo Carvalho, Argentinian Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Mascherano, Nicolas Gaitan, Carlos Tevez etc have been signed for some big money.
ISL is famous for bringing players who have retired or on the verge of retirement from the sport. Players like Diego Forlan, Alessandro Del Piero, Marco Materazzi, and Roberto Carlos have plied their trade in the league. The only thing that is missing is lack of current superstars who will not only improve the game but also will be helpful in terms of marketing the league.
Money is an important part for any club. If you have enough money in your kitty and there is not shortage of buying the best in the business. In case of Chinese clubs the goverment having been instrumental inproviding support and urging private and private sectors to invest more money on football.
On the contrary, ISL franchises have limited money cap due to which they have failed to land some of the current stars in the game. The ISL authority have asked teams to focus more on youth development.
For India, it’s all about playing with pride. ISL helped Indian football immensely and several youngsters emerged every year. So the process has to continue the same way before we can dream of a miracle.