The Indian football men’s team will start its Asian Games campaign against host China in Hangzhou on Tuesday.
The team, made after long negotiations with the Indian Super League clubs regarding the release of players, will have Suni Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Chinglensana Singh as the three seniors in the team.
Indian football is returning to the Asian Games after nine years as they – the men’s and the women’s teams – were cleared by the Sports Ministry under a special recommendation. The Blue Tigers have clinched gold twice in the Asian Games, in 1951 and 1962, respectively.
The biggest player missing the Asian Games from the Indian football team (men), however, is Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The Bengaluru FC No. 1 played a crucial role in the SAFF Championship, as India won the tournament, beating Kuwait in penalties.
Why is Gurpreet Sandhu not playing in the Asian Games?
Gurpreet was initially named in the Asian Games squad by the All India Football Federation, announced on August 1. However, his ISL club, Bengaluru FC, refused to release him for the tournament as it fell outside the FIFA international window.
No football club around the world are obliged or mandated to release its players for matches outside a fixed window pre-determined by the International Football Association well in advance.
Moreover, in case he was picked, he would have missed BFC’s opening two fixtures, both of which are high-voltage games – against Kerala Blasters (September 21) and Mohun Bagan Super Giant (September 27).
Keeping its ISL ambitions in mind, the Blues decided to release their captain Sunil Chhetri – who started six consecutive matches on the bench last season – but retained their goalie.
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