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No replacement: AIFF, ISL and coaches fail to prepare the next Sunil Chhetri

No replacement: AIFF, ISL and coaches fail to prepare the next Sunil Chhetri

No replacement for Sunil Chhetri in Indian Football Team, Who will be the next striker for Team India after Sunil Chhetri's Final game?

It was not a surprise that Sunil Chhetri would retire, one day or the other. A player cannot play forever! Now that team India skipper Sunil Chhetri has finally decided to retire from International football, the nation is clueless as to who will take his place in the team.

Team India has slowly been building a team that could go on to face other nations boldly. While new stars have been promoted across all positions, the striker’s position has been void. As Sunil Chhetri approached the twilight of his career, it should have been the priority of the AIFF, ISL and the coaches to find a suitable replacement.

No replacement!

It is not easy to replace legends, but for India, it is error 404. There is no suitable replacement for Chhetri at the striker’s spot. The likes of upcoming talents like Ishan Pandita died down. On the other hand, youngster Rahim Ali is too raw to handle the burden as a number 9 in the team.

Pandita’s lack of game time in ISL has been a major drawback in him getting regular callups in the National Team. On the other hand, the likes of Farukh Choudhary’s career dwindled down with multiple injuries.

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The likes of Rahim Ali and Gurkirat Singh are also a concern. Both the players are relatively very young to don the role of the lead striker in the team.

What went wrong?

The main blunder be it by the AIFF, the ISL or the coach is proper grooming of young prospects. None of the traditional forwards have been groomed properly in the Indian setup. These players may perform well in their ISL clubs, but the National Team is a different cup of tea.

Players like VP Suhair and Parthib Gogoi too were not properly used. These players have barely received regular callups in the National Team to get an idea about how the Indian team performs. On the flip side, the coach and the team have been over reliant on Sunil Chhetri in being the main man to score goals for the country.

It isn’t too late that the team have also started to depend on the other wide forwards like Chhangte, Liston, Manvir and Co. The usual norm was to pass the ball to Chhetri who would send it into the back of the net.

Who will be the next striker?

The only prominent candidate who can play as the number 9 in the team is Manvir Singh. But there is a catch. Despite being a natural forward, Manvir has been extensively used as right winger or right-win back at Mohun Bagan. Gone are the days, when Manvir used to play as a lone striker.

Now with the rise of wide players like Chhagnte, Vikram Pratap, Manvir would be the idea fit to take Sunil’s spot. But it is highly likely that the move would yield immediate results. It will surely take some time for Manvir to adjust to his new position before he can fire on all cylinders.

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