File image of Sunil Chhetri© AFP
The AIFF is bullish on sending its first team to Asian Games led by its talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri if it is able to get the green light from the sports ministry for participation is the continental showpiece starting September 23 in Hangzhou. The national football team, which didn’t get permission to participate during the Jakarta Games in 2018, is currently ranked 18th in Asia and the sports ministry’s rule states that in team sport, only those in top-eight will get the nod.
The national team under Croatian coach Igor Stimac has entered sub-100 club in FIFA ranking once again having won SAFF championship where it played against Lebanon and Kuwait.
“The current national team has seven U-23 first team players and since three over-age players are allowed, skipper Chhetri, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Sandesh Jhingan are all set to go for the Asian Games if they team gets permission,” a source privy to the development told PTI.
In fact, the AIFF has prepared a list of 50 under 23 players and forwarded it to the respective clubs. The idea, the sources said, is to raise another pool of under 23 players, who could be used for the AFC under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers and the King’s Cup in Thailand.
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