The Indian men's football team coach Stephen Constantine has expressed his disappointment at the decision of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to prevent the country from taking part in the upcoming Asian Games, calling it an appalling decision.
The IOA ensured that the Indian football team could not participate in the tournament as they did not meet the criteria required, which is a top-eight finish at the last Games.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had reportedly met with with authorities in order to sort out the issue, but the IOA eventually stuck to their original decision.
“It is an appalling decision. Asian Games is every four years and it’s not the same team every four years and we are not the same team we were four or eight years ago. It did us harm because we had a good opportunity to qualify from the group,” Constantine told reporters, as quoted by Hindu.
Constantine is currently in the midst of organising a 45-day camp in preparation for the SAFF Championships which takes place in Bangladesh from the 4th to 15th of September.
A clash recently arose, when it was reported that Bengaluru FC did not support the idea of releasing their players considering they are set to play in the AFC Cup, a decision Constantine had no qualms about.
“The way I see it is that Bengaluru FC is representing India in the AFC Cup. It is important that our clubs participate in the AFC Cup. We also are preparing from now for the SAFF Cup, which is also the preparation for the Asian Cup. So allowing those players to play in the AFC Cup is good for Indian football. They are representing India and I am 100% behind that,” he added.
The Blue Tigers are the defending champions, having won the last SAFF Championships and fans would be hoping for a similar showing this time around, considering that Indian football has definitely progressed in the last three years.