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AIFF has to play bigger role to improve football in India: Ganguly

Kolkata: Expressing disappoitment at the falling standard of Indian football, former cricket captain Sourav Ganguly today said the AIFF must take a cue from BCCI on develpoing the game in the country.

India suffered an embarrassing 1-2 defeat to tiny pacific island side Guam, ranked 33 places below them in the FIFA rankings, in their 2018 football World Cup qualifying group match last month.

"Success of any sport nationally or internationally depends on the infrastructure of the entire system. ISL is for a period of two months. ISL provides the structure for the Indian franchise. But I think IFA (AIFF) has to play a much bigger role if the football in India has to go forward with the support of ISL," the Atletico de Kolkata co-owner said at a formal interaction today.

The retired Indian left-hander named the West Bengal football association (IFA) though he meant the Indian football body, All India Football Federation (AIFF).

"It cannot be the other way round. Like in cricket, BCCI supports IPL and it is the body that runs the national team and makes sure they do well and the domestic structure is in place. Similarly IFA (AIFF) should play the pivotal role."

Ganguly however said ISL is a great platform for the Indian players. "ISL just began last year. It's a great platform for Indian players but a lot of players like former I-League champions Bengaluru FC were not part of the ISL."

The former India captain however said they should not give up and keep on trying. At this time, it seems to be very difficult. To be honest it has not happened. The standard has not improved for a while. All we can say is that we can try, if you don't try you cannot get anywhere. Infrastructure is very important in sport."

Ganguly also welcomed the transformation of artificial turf to natural grass in the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan.

"We had a lot of injury issues because of the injury prone hard artificial surface. It would be easier this time," Ganguly said. The transformed turf of the stadium in Saltlake would be ready before the team returns home from Spain for the pre-season camp in August.

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