Bhaichung Bhutia: Hero ISL has improved Indian players' cognitive abilities
Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia thinks that the Indian national team's recent stellar showings against Asian powerhouses like Oman and Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers can be attributed to the players developing significantly on the psychological front in recent years and opined that playing regularly in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) has contributed heavily towards that progress.
Bhutia, who has captained India in the past and is regarded as one of the finest strikers to have ever played for the country, in a recent interview with a media agency, stated, "The Hero ISL has made the players more confident. I think competing with good players has definitely given them confidence and you can see that in the way they played the last two World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Qatar."
The Blue Tigers put on a commendable display against Oman in their opening fixture of the Qualifiers and even led their illustrious opponents for the majority of the match before being undone by two late goals at Guwahati. In the following tie against reigning AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar, the team fared even better, holding their illustrious opponents to a goalless draw in their own backyard at Doha.
Further illustrating his point, Bhutia said, "Psychologically, the players are now looking more confident. Due to the Hero ISL, the boys are now playing and training with quality players. That definitely helps you learn a lot more and gain in experience."
The 42-year-old also heaped praise on former India head coach Stephen Constantine and his successor and the current boss Igor Stimac for honing the players' tactical acumen and said, "These boys did well under Stephen Constantine and are now doing well under Igor Stimac. The boys are improving tactically and their style of play has also improved."
India's next match will be against Bangladesh on October 15 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.