The Indian football team is likely to miss out on the Asian Games for the second time in a row due to not meeting the sports ministry’s criteria for ranking the top 8 teams in the continent. After the King’s Cup in Thailand (on September 7), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had earlier planned to take the national senior team head coach Igor Stimac U-23 team to the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China from September 23 to October 8. 10).
Since 2002, football at the Asian Games has been an under-23 affair, with three players above that allowed in a team.
In a letter sent to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and all National Sports Federations (NSFs), “In team events, only sports up to the eighth position in the participating Asian countries. Last year should be considered for participation in Asian Games.
India is nowhere near the top eight in Asia in the ranking. It is currently ranked 18th among countries under the Asian Football Confederation.
The AIFF said it would request the sports ministry to reconsider the decision.
“It is a decision taken by the government. So we have to abide by it. However, we will request the government to reconsider the decision as far as football is concerned,” AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran told PTI.
“The performance of the Indian team this year has been extremely encouraging. Getting a chance to play in the Asian Games will be a big boost for football, especially the U-23 boys.” The IOA had rejected the Indian football team for the 2018 Asian Games on the same ground that it did not make it to the top eight in Asia.
There is a provision in the Sports Ministry’s instructions sent to the IOA and NSF, which will give a ray of hope to the Kalyan Chaubey-led AIFF.
“Where, according to experts in specific sports disciplines and Sports Authority of India, participation of individuals and teams is recommended on reasonable grounds for relaxation of the above norms, the same will be considered in the ministry for appropriate decision,” the ministry letter said.
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