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AFA’s final bid for match

Guwahati Jan. 16: The Assam Football Association (AFA) will make a final effort to retain the India-Palestine international friendly football match, scheduled for February 6, at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here by inviting a team of AIFF officials to inspect the ground for one last time within a week.

Disclosing this to The Telegraph over phone from Delhi, AFA secretary Ankur Dutta said, “Though the proposed shifting of the match to Cochin was decided at the AIFF executive meeting (in Delhi yesterday), it is not yet final. We are going to request the AIFF to depute a technical team at the earliest to inspect the ground again because it has improved a lot.”

According to sources, an AIFF team might visit Guwahati after January 19 for another assessment of the ground.

“The international friendly against Palestine on February 6 will be played in Cochin. The match was earlier scheduled to be played in Guwahati but had to be shifted due to inappropriate conditions,” stated one of the resolutions in the minutes of yesterday’s meeting in Delhi.

Earlier, the city lost another international friendly between India and Yemen late last year when the latter had to cancel the tour owing to travel problems.

When contacted, Sports Authority of Assam (SAA) director-general Gaurav Bothra said, “I am not yet informed about the shift. We are extending full cooperation to the AFA. They are watering the ground regularly and the grass has improved a lot. Besides, the AFA has also brought in technical experts from Calcutta. If such a decision is taken by the AIFF unilaterally without even inspecting the ground after the preparation, it is quite unfortunate.”

The turf was damaged badly during the flag down ceremony of the Indo-Asean Car Rally last month when heavy vehicles and motorcycles plied on it, as well as on the athletic tracks.

Besides, the growth of weeds and the presence of earthworms on the top layer of the turf have been a perennial problem in the stadium.

The cancellation of the venue will have an impact on India’s bid for the 2017 Fifa junior World Cup.

Kung-fu: Assam players bagged seven gold and five silver medals in the 3rd International All Martial Arts Championship held at Shaheed Rangshala in Birat Nagar of Nepal on January 11 and 12.

Taekwondo

Nagaland athletes bagged two silver and five bronze medals in the 27th National Taekwondo Championship held in Ahmedabad from December 26 to 30.