The Goan side's claim is that they cannot take part in the competition without their full squad. Three of the Red Machine players namely goalkeeper Sandip Nandy, Denzil Franco and Lenny Rodrigues have been called to Wim Koevermans' preparatory camp ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.
According to The Times of India, club officials have written to the AIFF asking to be withdrawn from Asia's second-tier club competition if their three players aren't released from the national camp.
"If you do not release the players (from February 17),then we would request you to please withdraw our participation from the AFC Cup as it is impossible to participate in an international tournament of this nature without sufficient preparation and our full-strength squad," Churchill manager Danzie Ferrao wrote to AIFF general secretary Kushal Das on Tuesday.
While Churchill have sent a written request, East Bengal too have made a similar plea but verbally.
"The prestige of the country will also be involved when we play the AFC Cup," said East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar to The Telegraph. "How can we play without Arnab Mondal or Mehtab Hussain," he asked. Two other East Bengal players — Raju Gaikwad and Robin Singh are also in the camp.
While India’s opening match in the AFC Challenge Cup is against Chinese Taipei on March 2 in Myanmar, Churchill and East Bengal are set to play in AFC Cup on February 26 and 27, respectively. Wim Koevermans, who has started his camp in Pune on Tuesday, is planning to take the team to Myanmar on February 26.
Churchill will play Kitchee SC at Hong Kong and East Bengal will meet Malaysia’s Selangor in Calcutta.
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