ISL 2023-24: Lot of talent in Indian football, but get big coaches, focus on youth programmes, says JFC striker Chima

Daniel Chima Chukwu couldn’t quite make a mark in his maiden season at the Indian Super League. The Nigerian had arrived at East Bengal with a big reputation; he had scored, and created, goals aplenty in Norway and China.

He could not do as much in Kolkata, though he had two goals from 10 matches. But a move, during the January transfer window of 22, to a city less than 300 km away from the Eastern metropolis worked wonders.

Chima scored on his debut for Jamshedpur FC against FC Goa. It didn’t take him long to establish himself as one of the most dangerous strikers in the ISL.

The 32-year-old is looking forward to carrying his form into the new season. Jamshedpur opens its campaign against East Bengal on September 25.

He is excited with the team’s new signings, such as the Serbian striker Alen Stevanovic. “Alen has a lot of experience of playing in Europe and I am looking forward to striking a partnership with him,” Chima told Sportstar. “I have also been training with the other new signings and the team is shaping up well.”

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He said he had been enjoying his time at Jamshedpur. “I have done well, but it has to do with having a great team, teammates, staff and management; you have people to put you through whenever you’re having difficulties,” he said. “When I came here from East Bengal, the coach Owen Coyle knew how I played. He would ask the midfielders to always try to find me, and things like that.”

Chima said that had been the case when he was at Molde, the Norwegian club, where he played for five years and scored 31 goals. He recalled he had an excellent chemistry with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who would go on to coach Manchester United.

“He would want me to keep the ball, drag in the defender and then give an assist,” Chima said. “At Molde, I had formed nice partnerships with strikers like Davy Angan of Ivory Coast.”

He said he enjoyed working with Indian players too. “I think Ritwik Das is an amazing player, someone I would love to have around me in a team,” he said. “There is a lot of talent in Indian football.”

He believes the Indian national team has the potential to do better. “Get the big coaches here,” he said. “And focus on the youth programme, and encourage the young players.”


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