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Soccer league stares at delay

One of eastern India’s most popular football fixtures could be delayed in the face of 40-plus temperatures burning up Jamshedpur.

Jamshedpur Sporting Association (JSA), that organises the soccer league, met on Friday, but did not take a final call on the start of the tournament that is usually held in the second half of May.

“It’s too hot to conduct the league this month. The players will be very uncomfortable while competing in 90-minute matches. We have plans to hold the qualifiers after May 16, but it would be too early to announce the dates of the tournament,” JSA football committee chairman Ramesh Mehta told The Telegraph.

Mehta, also vice-president of Jharkhand Football Association, added they would like to commence the tournament in June by when they hope the weather would ease up a bit.

“It all depends on the weather. We may start the tournament in the first week of June. But, we could extend the date further if the weather doesn’t improve,” he said.

According to a JSA office-bearer, six outfits have registered for the qualifiers. “Heat will not affect the qualifiers very much as matches would conclude in two days. Matches will be played at Armoury grounds or JRD Tata Sports Complex. Top two teams will make it to the A division of the JSA league,” he added.

The tournament, performance in which ensures a place in the state team, is conducted in three sections, Premier Division, Super Division and A Division.

Prominent outfits like Tata Football Academy, Tata Steel, Tinplate and Tata Motors vie for the top honours.

But, as of now, office-bearers of the Tata Steel-patronised JSA are keeping their fingers crossed.