Kolkata: Mumbai City FC's German import Manuel Friedrich today said the much-anticipated Indian Super League is the country to make football the number one sport in India.
Impressed with the tanelt of the Indian players, the 35-year-old former Borussia Dortmund centre back said: "In our squad, we have got really good players with good techniques. Maybe there's some difference in technical teaching. Football not the no. 1 sport in India. But we are here and we want to change this.
"The education in technical aspect is little bit different compared to Germany. We have really good domestic players, we'll play really good in the tournament," he said.
Asked how popular the ISL would be, the German defender said: "This tournament will try to increase the popularity of football in India. You can judge after two or three weeks. If the tournament is really well played and attractive for the fans then it will prosper."
Having played in the last Champions League, Friedrich, who played for world champions Germany briefly in 2006, said the opportunity in India really excited him.
Terming it a serious affair, he said: "I decided to go to Asia last year. The offer came from India and from the very beginning, it was very serious for me."
He, however, said that the artificial turf at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan would challenge him.
"To be honest, I'm not used to astro turf. I had to adapt to this. It's a different kind of surface and I will get used to it. I'm looking forward to the first match," he said about the Mumbai outfit's first match against local team Atletico de Kolkata, the tournament opener on October 12.
"I need some time to adapt. But everything is possible after two-three weeks."
On Atletico de Kolkata, he said a Spanish challenge awaits the Mumbai franchise in the lung-opener.
"I know it's Atletico's team which means Atletico de Kolkata will play the Spanish way. Like trying to have much ball possession. But we are here to get three points and go back to Mumbai.