Football

Foreigners lift Indians’ playing level in ISL: Fowler

Robbie Fowler, ex-Liverpool FC star and England striker, shields the ball from an opponent at the Barclay's Premier League Live event exhibition game.

Robbie Fowler, ex-Liverpool FC star and England striker, shields the ball from an opponent at the Barclay's Premier League Live event exhibition game.  

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Robbie Fowler is firm about the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) continuing with six foreigners each team as the maximum stipulation. Five Indians make up the reminder of the playing squad. Each franchise has a marquee foreign signing besides seven other foreigners.

The ex-England striker (2002 World Cup) tackled a query about giving more Indian footballers the chance to figure in the playing squad by reducing number of foreigners each ISL team. “I do not feel change of that type should happen in the ISL. When you have players of the class of Robert Pires (FC Goa) and Nicolas Anelka (Mumbai City FC), lesser players will automatically raise their performance level.”

Fowler added, “It is not that these big names from EPL are active, but are in touch with the game and their presence can only lift Indian football. If player restrictions are to be tried out, then do in the I-League, not in the ISL.” Anelka returned home after delighting followers and teammates with his ball touch and body moves.

Pires, a crowd-puller at Arsenal FC, is playing the ISL 2014 semifinals, as is England goalkeeper David James, a teammate of Fowler at Liverpool and marquee player-manager for Kerala Blasters FC. Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia wears the captain’s armband at Athletico de Kolkata for whom he is the marquee name. Chennaiyin FC is proud of Italian hero Marco Materrazi as player-manager and marquee signing is Brazil’s Elano Blumer.

Fowler also supports the franchise decision to hire foreign coaches by eight ISL franchises and their subsequent decision to get players from their respective nations. “If an Englishman is the manager or the head coach, he will take on England players to join him in the ISL for the simple reason that he is comfortable with having them around. It is the same for any foreign coach in any league.”

Matterazi got fellow Italian defender Alessandro Nesta to join him at Chennaiyin. ATK coach Antonio Habas signed up Spaniards Borja Fernandez, Jofre Gonzalez, Jose Miguel Rey under Garcia, whose move from Spanish league to Liverpool happened when Rafa Benitez, also from Spain, took charge at the EPL club where Fowler earned his spurs.

Fowler was in Mumbai in connection with the Barclay’s Premier League Live event and played an exhibition game for charity. Famous for goal-scoring feats in the Liverpool frontline in his playing days, the Englishman is eyeing a future role as manager in the ISL and has experience in Asia under his belt, following work with Muangthonng United in the Thailand Premier League.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 2:42:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/hero-indian-super-league-robbie-fowler-said-foreigners-lift-indians-playing-level-in-isl/article6690950.ece

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