Indian football icon, Bhaichung Bhutia, has appealed for the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to find a way to send the Indian U-23 team to the 2018 Asian Games at any cost. His reaction comes after the Indian Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision on Sunday to not send the football squad to Jakarta.

“It’s obviously disappointing but I’m sure the Ministry (Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports) and the Federation (AIFF) will try their best to send the team. If it is a matter of cost, the two bodies should foot the expenses and send the teams,” Bhutia told Sportstar .

The former India captain continued that this would have been a great exposure for the youngsters, “It’s an U-23 tournament, so I don’t know why they’re not sending the team. It is a big opportunity for the boys. The exposure they will gain from this is different. The Asian Games is a congregation of athletes from all across Asia and it would have been a memorable experience for the boys to rub shoulders with other athletes.”

The Sikkimese Sniper also rued the IOA’s criteria of not letting the team go based on the senior team’s ranking in Asia (14). “I think it’s a little complicated with the IOA because they may not understand how the rankings work. It is unfair; we need to look at each sport differently. Football is developing in the country now,” he said.

Bhutia, who made 104 appearances for the national team in a career spanning across 16 years, is very keen on the team’s participation. “We need to find a way to send the team to the Asian Games at any cost,” he concluded.