'Fitness, squad balance are keys'

'Fitness, squad balance are keys'

Mumbai City's Uruguyan striker Forlan keen to start well

'Fitness, squad balance are keys'

It’s important to have a good squad but equally crucial is that all players in the team are fit and available to play every game in the Indian Super League (ISL), feels Mumbai City FC’s marquee player and former Uruguay star Diego Forlan.

“You play many games in a short period (in ISL) and also travel a lot. That’s not easy. Everyone needs to be fit and available for every game. That’s important,” said the 37-year-old, who had guided his country into the semifinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

“This is a nice schedule, a different type of tournament. Hopefully, many players can play many games, but it’s not easy. You get tired. The way they are doing it, it’s new for me. You not only need to have a good squad but also need to have the whole squad injury free.

“You don’t know what will happen in football even though you have the best team on paper. I have had that experience in many countries where I played. You play two games in a row and travel a lot. It’s important to have a fit squad. In two months you play 14 games,” he explained.

Forlan has replaced French star Nicolas Anelka as Mumbai City FC’s marquee player after the former played for the ISL outfit in the first two seasons during which the club did not enter the play-offs.

He had a pre-season training stint with the rest of the squad members in Dubai where the team won two and drew as many games.

“This is my second time in India. I had been here (Kolkata) in 2010. We have a mix of good Indian and foreign players.

“I know the club did not qualify for the play offs and that’s the challenge - to qualify and do our best,” said Forlan.

Confirming that he had offers to play elsewhere Forlan, who has turned out for top European club sides such as Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan in the past, said he chose India after having seen some ISL games on television.

“I had (other) offers, but preferred coming here. I had been watching some games before, when I was living in Japan and then in Uruguay. There are many good players and many people inside the stadium.

“It’s growing and they are trying to make it an important sport. I know cricket is the main sport, but they are trying to make it a good league. It’s not easy but they are trying their best,” said the Uruguayan.

The marquee player said that the brevity of the ISL, that commences on October 1 and ends on December 18, is what’s attractive to active stars like him.

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