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India pull out of Vietnam meet
- AIFF plans tours to Thailand, West Asia

Calcutta: Defending champions India have pulled out of the L.G. Cup, after the football tournament in Vietnam was brought forward by a month.

“The advancement of the tournament leaves us with very little time for preparation because of our domestic schedules. Therefore, we have decided not to participate in it,” AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said Tuesday.

The Vietnam tournament, where India notched up their only major success in three decades, was originally scheduled to take place in September, but it has been advanced by a month and will now be held from August 22 to 31. The Federation Cup, starting here from July 25, will get over on August 7, thus leaving little time for the national team to prepare for the tournament abroad.

Chief coach Stephen Constantine had also expressed his strong reservation about preparing the side in a short span of time. The AIFF had already intimated the decision to its marketing agent, Strata.

“We believe sending an under-prepared team to Vietnam will do us no good. Moreover, we don’t want to suffer humiliation again,” Das Munshi said, referring to India’s performance in the SAAF Cup, held in Dhaka early this year.

The Debjit Ghosh-led India failed to defend the crown and finished a poor third in the Dhaka meet.

However, the AIFF was planning to send the national team to Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Iran and Qatar to play some friendlies there as a lead-up to the Afro-Asian Games, slated for October and November.

AFC verdict on ban

The AIFF president announced that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is set give its final verdict on July 15 on the one-year ban slapped on the Indian Football Association (IFA) on hosting foreign teams.

The ban followed the violence-marred IFA Shield final between East Bengal and Palmeiras SC, which was abandoned in the end.

The IFA later disqualified the Brazilian outfit from the tournament and awarded the trophy to East Bengal, prompting the visitors to move Fifa, which forwarded the matter to AFC.

In another development, AIFF is unlikely to enforce its earlier decision that all in charge of National Football League sides from this year should have requisite coaching licences. “This is not mandatory, as of now. But I have proposed that the performance of coaches who recently completed the AFC A licence course be monitored during the coming NFL.”

He said the AIFF would take up the matter during its executive committee meeting in July.

Meanwhile, Dr Vece Paes, chairman of the AIFF medical commission, said that players in general are now more health-conscious. “The fitness level of the footballers has definitely improved,” he said.

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