Clubs Refuse to Release Players
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has been forced to postpone the preparatory camp for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers after clubs refused to release players almost a month before the qualifiers kick off.
New Camp Schedule
The AIFF had scheduled the preparatory camp to begin from August 12 in Bhubaneswar, but the federation has now delayed the start of the camp till August 20. AIFF secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran wrote to all clubs on Monday, informing them of the change in schedule.
Reasons for Delay
- Ongoing Durand Cup competition
- ISL clubs in pre-season
India’s matches in the qualifiers are against:
- Maldives (September 6)
- Hosts China (September 9)
- UAE (September 12)
Several clubs are hesitant to release their players for the camp due to:
- Continental commitments
- Mohun Bagan and Odisha FC playing in the AFC Cup
- Mumbai City preparing for the AFC Champions League
Discussion between AIFF and ISL Coaches
The AIFF is arranging for an “open discussion” between national coach Igor Stimac and ISL coaches. They will discuss the release of players for the Asian Games and the all-important Asian Cup, for which a three-week preparatory camp is scheduled.
The virtual meeting between AIFF and ISL coaches will be held on Tuesday evening.
Igor Stimac expressed his expectation for a positive response from ISL coaches regarding player availability. He also acknowledged the challenges of managing the calendar.
Under-23 Team Coaching
The under-23 team will be coached by Clifford Miranda, as Igor Stimac will be busy with the senior national team at the King’s Cup in Thailand.