The Indian football team's 2018 World Cup qualifiers have been a disaster. The World No 167 team lost to Oman (1-2), Guam (1-2), Iran (0-3), Turkmenistan (1-2) and Oman (0-3) to languish in last spot in Group D.
With the spate of losses seeing the national team cop flak from all quarters, India striker Robin Singh has urged fans and detractors alike to keep the faith.
"I apologise to the fans for the defeats. But I feel that the team is in transition, there are a lot of new players coming in. I know a lot of people are criticising our motivation to play for the national team, but I don't believe in reacting to such criticism. The team and the fans should be patient, our time will come. We can still seal qualification for the Asian Cup (by finishing third in the group)," the 25-year-old told mid-day.
Singh said that the national team's issues arise from the players having to switch between three different systems of play. "We're playing with three different systems — one system for the national team, one with our I-League clubs and a third with our Indian Super League outfits. It takes us time to make the switch between systems. I'm sure the All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical committee is looking into this," the Delhi lad added.
'India comes first'
The ISL clubs have also come under scrutiny for refusing to release their players before the stipulated four-day duration of the qualifiers. Robin, while refusing to weigh in on the controversy, said that his first preference would always be the national team.
"If India coach Stephen Constantine wants me to report for national duty on a certain date, I'll be there on that date. For me, the nation comes first. I'm not a big enough player to say when the national team should get together before matches.
"I want to play as many matches as possible, so I'm fine with playing for (ISL team) Delhi Dynamos and India within a couple of days," said the striker, who recently played and scored for the Delhi ISL franchise a day after turning out for the national team in Oman.