New Delhi: India football coach Wim Koevermans today said that he wants the national team players to get attached with I-League clubs in order to be eligible for selection.
India players like Gouramangi Singh, Nirmal Chettri and Syed Rahim Nabi have not signed with any I-League club in the transfer window and rather chose to align with IMG-Reliance for the proposed IPL-style football early next year.
But Koevermans said that he hoped the national team players to play in the I-League which can only be done if I-League clubs agreed to take them on loan. The I-League clubs have so far refused to budge from their stand of not signing IMG-R players.
"I hope the players get attached with a club as soon as possible and play throughout the season to be considered for the national team," Koevermans was quoted as saying by the official All India Football Federation website.
Koevermans left out the likes of Nabi for Wednesday's international friendly match against Tajikistan in Khujand on the ground of lack of pre-season training. He, however, said that those left could be considered for the preparatory camp for the September 1-11 SAFF Championships.
"We had to leave some players out because of their lack of training time with their respective clubs. However, I can bring in everybody into the Preparatory Camp for the SAFF Championship in Bangalore as I will have more time to look at them," said Koevermans, who was a part of the Dutch national team in late 80's.
"We will have enough training sessions to focus on them (Nabi, Paul etc). At the moment, almost everyone is practising hard and I only hope they maintain a decent level of fitness prior to joining the camp in Bangalore," he said.
"You need to understand the decision of leaving out some players benefits them in the longer run -- we don't want them to get injured at the moment. After all, it's an International friendly, the intensity of which is much higher," he added. Koevermans said his priority has been playing international friendlies although India have just managed to play a solitary match this year.
"Unfortunately our Exposure Tour in June got cancelled. The Tour did look nice as there was a match each against Pakistan and Bangladesh as there was match against England C. It would have been a nice experience to play in front of NRIs and on good pitches.
"Since taking over as India's national coach, my priority has been to play as many International Friendlies as possible as you need the experience to get better. Playing against Tajikistan will be another experience for the boys and I can tell you, they are a very tough side."
He said the Tajikistan friendly will be a tough one but India need such matches to rise higher.
"I have seen videos of them. But they have a new Coach. So you never know -- their style of play may change. There's no doubt they are a very strong side. But it's about playing such strong sides that you learn a lot.
"You still go back to the Nehru Cup final where we beat Cameroon and the experience of playing such a quality side was just incredible. Such matches make you realise that you need to win such games if you aim to go up higher. We are looking for a good match."