The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has called upon the 10 Indian Super League (ISL) franchises to release players who have been selected to represent India in the upcoming Asian Games. The AIFF emphasizes the importance of considering the “national interest” in this matter.
The 22-member Indian men’s squad heading to Hangzhou for the Asian Games includes players from various ISL clubs. Bengaluru FC contributes six players, while Mumbai City FC and several other clubs have their representatives as well. With the Indian Super League commencing on September 21 and the Asian Games starting on September 23 in Hangzhou, China, this creates a scheduling clash.
“We very much understand that this Asian Games is outside the FIFA window, and you are not obliged to release the players,”
– AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran
In a letter addressed to the 10 ISL clubs, AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran acknowledges the unique circumstances but also appeals to their sense of responsibility towards the country. He states, “But we all have the responsibility towards the country to make India proud… As Indians, we are obliged to make sacrifices for the country and, in this process, you have to take a decision by releasing the players considering the National interest in mind.”
The Sports Ministry has made a special exemption for both the men’s and women’s teams to participate in the Asian Games, marking their return to the continental showpiece after a nine-year hiatus.
Prabhakaran expresses hope that the ISL clubs will release the players in time to field a full-strength team at the Asian Games, emphasizing the significance of standing with the country during this sporting event.
He adds, “Your decision will take our beautiful game to the next level. We look forward to your cooperation and support in taking Indian football forward, and your one step to release the players to be part of Asian Games will once again demonstrate our collaboration in shaping the future of football in India.”
Indian Men’s Team: Aiming for Glory at Asian Games
The Indian men’s team, currently ranked 99th in the FIFA rankings, is the second-best ranked team in Group A, with hosts China (ranked 80th) being the top seed. Myanmar (160) and Bangladesh (189) complete the group. The tournament features 23 teams divided into six groups, with the top two from each group and the four best third-placed teams advancing to the pre-quarterfinals.
The squad, under the guidance of head coach Igor Stimac, kicks off its campaign against hosts China on September 19. Subsequent matches are scheduled against Bangladesh on September 21 and Myanmar on September 24.
The Indian men’s football team has a storied history at the Asian Games, having won gold medals in New Delhi 1951 and Jakarta 1962, as well as a bronze in Bangkok 1970. The 2023 Hangzhou Games mark their 16th appearance at the Asian Games.
Indian Squad for Asian Games
|Goalkeepers||Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Gurmeet Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem||Bengaluru, Hyderabad, FC Goa|
|Defenders||Anwar Ali, Ashish Rai, Sandesh Jhingan, Narender Gahlot, Lalchungnunga, Akash Mishra, Roshan Singh||Mohun Bagan, FC Goa, Odisha FC, East Bengal, Mumbai City, Bengaluru FC|
|Midfielders||Rahul KP, Jeakson Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Apuia Ralte, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Naorem Mahesh Singh||Kerala Blasters, Bengaluru, Mumbai City, Punjab, East Bengal|
|Forwards||Sunil Chhetri, Rohit Danu, Siva Sakthi Narayanan, Rahim Ali, Aniket Jadhav, Vikram Partap Singh||Bengaluru, Chennaiyin, Odisha, Mumbai|
Head Coach: Igor Stimac
This development underscores the significance of cooperation between Indian football’s stakeholders in furthering the country’s sporting ambitions on the international stage.