Indian football fraternity slams IOA for Asiad snub

Jul 07, 2018, 08:12 IST | Noel D'Souza

The noise levels went several notches higher after Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra defended the decision of including lesser known sports like pencak silat, kurash and sepak takraw saying that these sports are

Indian football fraternity slams IOA for Asiad snub
India midfielder Anirudh Thapa, 20, (right) in action during the Intercontinental Cup tie against New Zealand in Andheri recently

The exclusion of the Indian football teams (both men and women) from the upcoming Asian Games (August 18-September 2) in Indonesia has led to quite an uproar in the football fraternity. The noise levels went several notches higher after Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra defended the decision of including lesser known sports like pencak silat, kurash and sepak takraw saying that these sports are, "potential medal winners and there is no place for also-rans in the squad." Former India U-23 head coach Savio Medeira called it a sorry state of affairs.

Sad state of affairs
"It's really sad. Even after seeing the strides Indian football has been making of late which is reflected in the rankings, this is disappointing. Who can guarantee a medal from the participants? Winning and losing is part of every sportsperson's life. At a time when India has qualified for the Asian Cup in January, there could have been so many positives had we played at the Asian Games," Medeira told mid-day yesterday.

India's veteran goalkeeper Subrata Paul felt the Asiad could have been an ideal platform for youngsters to prove themselves. "Even if we do not get a medal, this is the right time to give our boys exposure as they are doing well. It's sad that the IOA has not given the green signal. I feel sorry for the players. Had they performed well at the Asian Games, they could have won a spot in the senior team for the Asian Cup," said Paul, who featured in the 2007 edition at Qatar.

Players demoralised
Former India vice-captain Godfrey Pereira said IOA's decision will demoralise young footballers. "It is very demoralising to hear that the government does not have faith in our players. Yes, we did not do well in the last edition [India suffered 0-5 and 0-2 defeats to UAE and Jordan respectively in the group stages], but that doesn't mean you do not support us. We won the Intercontinental Cup recently. On that basis, they should have considered sending a team for the Asian Games. How can you say that the team is not capable," fumed Pereira.

Menezes furious
Former India goalkeeper Henry Menezes said the IOA was being irresponsible. "This is such an irresponsible act on IOA's part. Narinder Batra owes Indian football an apology. The role and responsibility of the IOA should be understood. Their job is to recommend. Why are they acting like a business organisation? Batra has demeaned the sport. This is an insult to every Indian sportsperson," Menezes said.

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