Indian football teams may be axed from participating at the Asian Games - report

The sports ministry is having second thoughts about sending the Indian football contingent out to the games on account of deteriorating performances....

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place, says the old vernacular. But India’s loss to Pakistan in the bilateral series recently held at Bangalore, which was a bolt from the blue, seems to have set in motion the process of the old idiom actually being rephrased.  

If reports are to be believed, then the sports ministry of India is actually toying with the idea of dropping the Indian football team from the list of participants heading for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

The authorities are said to be miffed with the Indian U-23 squad’s loss in the second game of the series to their Pakistani counterparts in Bangalore. Jiji Thompson, the director general of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) was said to have been extremely disappointed at the sight of the Indian team’s performance, after watching their surrender first hand at the Bangalore football stadium.

India had won the first match against the Shaheens by a 1-0 margin, but it wasn’t a cakewalk by any means. The Blue Tigers were then brought down to earth in the second game, getting beaten 2-0 by a team lower than them by about 15 places, in the rankings.

“A final decision would only be taken after a week, but there is every chance the government would not bear the cost of the men’s and women’s football teams in the Asian Games. Of course, the AIFF (All India Football Federation) can send the team on their own,” elucidated an official in the know of things, to Kolkata daily The Telegraph.

Catastrophe spells for the national team if the SAI decides against sending them and the AIFF fails to bear the cost. It would be the third such time that the Indians go unrepresented at the Asian Games in football, the previous occasions being 1990 and 1994.

The Indian team, who won Gold at the Asian games in 1951 and 1962 adding a bronze in 1970, are victims of a larger shake-up in the selection process of the SAI, as they believe that only athletes who have a clear probability of reaching the quarter-finals of their respective participating events be allowed.

The Indian Olympics Association’s (IOA) list of participating candidates was under consideration at the ministry, with officials already keen to separate the medal winners from the also-rans. There is a chance that the Indian football teams (both men and women) alongside the table tennis and sepak takraw maybe axed.

Incidentally, both football teams were in China on preparatory tours as previously decided, after being cleared by the SAI in preparation of the Asian Games. Whether the preparation actually goes in vain is another question all together.