Comparing Japan's rise in Asian football after the advent of J-League to that of Indian soccer post Indian Super League, Brazilian great and FC Goa head coach Zico today said that the 159-ranked nation should make the most of the ongoing tournament. (All the latest from the Indian Super League)
"There was no professional league in Japan before the start of J-League. Football is already existing in India and we need to make the best out of ISL. In Japan then, there were stadiums with capacity of (only) 5000-10000," said the 61-year-old. (Also read: Dear India, Back Desi Sports Talent, Not Just a Bunch of Foreign Celebrities)
While India continue to struggle in world rankings and are placed 30th in Asia, Japan are listed 52nd in the world and occupy the second position in the continent. Zico, whose role in transforming Japanese football is well documented, said that India need to make the best out of ISL.
"In Japan, the difference was that everyone was playing in one league only and not two leagues like in India. Here some of the very good players are not playing in ISL."
"In Japan, all the best Japanese players were playing in the J-League along with top foreign players. We need to choose the best. ISL is a big success for Indian football," said Zico on the eve of FC Goa's ISL clash against Delhi Dynamos.
FC Goa languish at the bottom of the pool after managing just one win at the end of the first leg, losing four times, but Zico seemed to have given the impression that his side can still turn things around in the remaining seven matches.
"In the beginning we had lost a few players to injuries. Our players know what they can contribute. We have to be a team that is good all the time and not rely on just one or two players. But in general we have been doing well."
"We made some mistakes in crucial moments of the game. We created so many opportunities but we could not convert. Delhi are also under pressure," Zico said.
The Dynamos are the only team against whom FC Goa had managed a victory, in their first-leg home match.
Dynamos player Zohib Islam Amiri, who is a member of the Afghanistan national team, said: "We came here to win the game, and we are going to play our natural game."