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AIFF, clubs sign truce

New Delhi: After the week-long drama, the decks are now clear for India’s tour of the Caribbean as the clubs have finally agreed to release footballers for the national team.

However, the team, which leaves on Friday, is now faced with a new concern. The players have to stay in riot-hit Londonovernight as per the schedule. Few club have raised questions over the itinerary and have asked the federation to look into the safety of the footballers.

Dempo is one of the clubs who has voiced their concerns. Earlier in the day, they had asked their nine players, who deserted the national camp on Tuesday, to return to Delhi, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Pune FC have also relented to All India Football Federation (AIFF)’s request.

Apart from the Dempo footballers, three players from Calcutta Mehtab Hossain, Jewel Raja and Syed Rahim Nabi are also expected to join the camp by Thursday morning. Pune FC has told their two players, Subrata Paul and Jeje Lalpekhlua, to continue at the national camp.

“A 23-member Indian team would leave on Friday morning,” said an AIFF official adding that India will play against the national teams of Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago on August 17, 21 and 24, respectively.

Given the fact that all three teams are placed higher than India in the Fifa rankings, it is a concern that Armando Colaco’s boys will leave for the Caribbean shores unprepared because of the problems over the release of players.

On Wednesday, only 15 players attended the camp. The coach will get the entire bunch for practice only on Thursday, a few hours before departure.

As per its contract with the national team sponsors, the AIFF is supposed to play at least half a dozen internationals in a calendar year and these three matches would be counted among them.

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