NorthEast United FC coach Ricki Herbert on Tuesday said that despite luring renowned footballer stars from all over the globe, it will be the performance of home-grown players that will ultimately determine the standard of the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL).
"The quality of the ISL will depend on the national players rather than the foreigners. It is important to invest in young Indian footballers for the sports to develop in the country. It is a long term project and has immense potential," Herbert said at a press conference, ahead of his team's away match against Delhi Dynamos Wednesday.
He said that his franchisee is focusing on Indian players and trying to mould a competitive unit on the basis of the regional talent that is in abundance in the northeast region of the country.
"The team is a work in progress. With proper planning it can only produce positive results. With time and stability we can be a strong franchisee. It is still early days. We have some interesting players. Some are very young and inexperienced and haven't even played in the I-League, so we need to be patient with them," he said.
NorthEast United FC is coming into the match on the back of a 0-2 defeat against Mumbai FC and despite being advantageously placed at the second spot on the standings with seven points from four matches. Herbert feels that won't assume huge significance against fourth-placed Delhi.
"This tournament has to be approached game by game. Because of the short span of the competition, winning consecutive games will be an issue for all teams. So we need to focus on one match at a time," the 53-year-old said.
Delhi have collected five points from their three matches, winning 4-1 against Chennaiyin FC at home.
"Delhi are a good side. They are coming into the match on the back of a win. We hopefully can expose them in their own backyard. The match has all the right ingredients to be an exciting contest," the New Zealander said, declining to give any importance on the doubtfulness of availability of their 'marqee' player Spaniard Joan Capdevila who is nursing an injury.
"We will wait till Wednesday morning and take a call on him before the match," he said.