Coach Constantine irked over club's attitude

India football coach Stephen Constantine on Tuesday expressed displeasure at I-League clubs not releasing players called for national camp for SAFF Championships which begins here from Wednesday on the pretext of playing in the just-concluded Indian Super League.

I-League club Bengaluru FC did not release nine players for the national camp which began on December 10 in Kochi, saying that they need rest after playing a lot of matches this year, including the ISL, which concluded on December 20.

Among the nine players were India captain Sunil Chhetri and his strike partner Robin Singh and midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who are key players in the Indian national team. However, many of them, including Chhetri, have finished their ISL engagements, since their sides could not reach the semifinals.

Constantine did not take any name but it was clear which club he was directing his remarks to. “It’s always nice to play in your own country. But the irony is that we have not been able to have 11 vs 11 games prior to this morning despite having summoned a preparatory camp since December 10,” he said at the pre-tournament press conference.

“Though we had called for players in the camp earlier in an effort to prepare better for SAFF Suzuki Cup, the strength in the camp was not enough to prepare. At a time we were reduced to just 14 players and there was no way we could conduct our practice properly. It is also hard to judge players from just one session,” he said.

Chaos reigns
Absolute chaos reigned as the arrangements for the SAFF Championship have fallen flat on all fronts.

Coaches of the participating teams came down heavily on the way things have been organised at the pre-tournament press meeting which was held here on Tuesday. “Tell me one thing that is in place for this year’s SAFF tournament. We are all disappointed with the way things have been organised here,” said an angry Constantine.

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