Bengaluru, October 11: Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC's midfielder Erik Paartalu is no stranger to domestic football in China, having plied his trade for Chinese Super League (CSL) club Tianjin TEDA in 2013.
The Australian is now among the more influential players in Indian football and has seen the sport make quite some progress.
India has a poor track record against the dragons, having failed to win in any of the 17 previous meetings.
As India lock horns with China on Saturday (October 13) in Suzhou City, Paartalu feels it is the right kind of preparation the team needs, especially with the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE looming large.
For the first time ever the Indian Senior National Team will be playing an International Friendly in China. Let's cheer loud as they face the Red Dragons on October 13. #CHNvIND #BackTheBlue #AsianDream #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/iXMR2tqkKy— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) October 7, 2018
"India can have a good game against China. They (China) are in a bit of transition with players retiring and new ones coming in. I feel India needs to play against them before the Asian Cup because they are going to be up against this type of opposition in UAE next year," said Paartalu.
Though it is the first time the team in blue are playing China away, Paartalu feels there is no reason to worry as Indian football is on the right track and the results will be seen, sooner rather than later.
"The ISL has been taking a somewhat slower approach (compared to CSL) but realistic approach for success. Indian football will be better off if it keeps going like this.
"I feel Indian football has come a long way. Certainly, that's the case in the last five years. Everyone's talking about their fast rise through the ranking table. I see them like China has been in the last 20 years," said the 32-year-old.
The expectations have risen, according to Paartalu, largely due to sustained efforts in the last five years that has seen a steady rise in the stature of Indian football.
.@GurpreetGK will have a big role to play when the @IndianFootball team 🇮🇳 face People's Republic of China 🇨🇳 on Saturday!— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) October 11, 2018
Leave your wishes for the ace goalkeeper below 👇#BackTheBlue #CHNvIND pic.twitter.com/s3B3zWztxF
"The CSL has been around a lot longer than ISL. I think the CSL, the sort of money on offer there is crazy. You always wonder if they will be able to sustain that. The ISL started with a lot of money too but now they are a bit smarter. They have realised that paying crazy money on players who are at the end of their career is not going to benefit Indian football in the long term.
"If you see CSL's approach, it hasn't really helped the local players in the national team set-up. But there are a lot of academies set up and probably a golden generation will come up in the future," concluded the Sydney-born player.
(Source: ISL Media)