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Money no problem, says AFC team

Calcutta: The Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) two-member inspection team visited the city Friday as part of its tour of India. The officials, who had already been to Chennai, will also go to Imphal, Delhi, Goa and Bangalore and submit a report to the AFC, which will then be forwarded to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

The AFC is conducting this programme following the AIFF’s request to evaluate the condition of the game in India and suggest means of improvement. Paul Mony Samuel, Fifa development officer and Goal Project coordinator and AFC technical committee chief Alex Soosay are the officials working on the assignment.

Speaking to the media after a hectic day that included visits to the Maidan, SAI, and meetings with the state sports minister, IFA officials and club representatives, Samuel said paucity of funds couldn’t be a serious threat to the development of the game. “Some of the African nations wouldn’t have made it to the World Cup in that case.”

The Malaysian, who worked on a similar project in China in the early 1990s, said an object of this trip to India is to see how the game is conducted, at all levels, and whether the organisations concerned function professionally. A shift to total professionalism is not yet recommended, though Samuel informed that was the first prescription for China.

The official felt things in India are not as “disciplined” as they were in China a decade ago, though the “vibrant” nature of the Indian society meant football can prosper here.

Though the official didn’t disclose what recommendations he would make, he said the AIFF has been instructed to prepare an integrated and comprehensive annual calendar, keeping in mind the dates of AFC events. Samuel and Soosay will leave for Imphal Saturday and also visit Delhi, Goa and Bangalore.

The officials were accompanied by AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco and A.B. Kashmiri of Strata — the marketing agency of the Indian football body.

The Strata official added India will take part in the LG Cup in Vietnam next year and his company was also planning a similar tournament in India. About the National League, which got a sponsor only in the second half of the meet last season, Kashmiri said there have been encouraging discussions with some companies and he was hopeful of roping in at least four sponsors this time.

Colaco said the Asian Games squad will either play a few preparatory matches in North Korea or face a team from Uzbekistan at home before the quadrennial continental competition begins in Pusan next month.

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