Wed, 10 Aug 2011 11:55:10 GMT

I-League versus AIFF battle intensifies

In a dramatic u-turn, I-League clubs Tuesday refused to release their players for the national team's Caribbean and England tour a day after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) directed them to do so

I-League versus AIFF battle intensifies

Pune: AIFF president Praful Patel, during an emergency meeting here Monday tried his best to persuade the five I-league clubs - Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Dempo, Salgaocar and Pune FC - to release their players.

While I-League champions Salgaocar have no problem in releasing Karanjit Singh and Rocus Lamare for the national camp, the other four leading clubs declined.

The clubs reasoned that since tour matches in the Caribbean and England do not list under any of the two prescribed dates of FIFA official matches, they are not bound to release players for the national camp. India will play against Pakistan Sep 26 in England and friendly matches in Caribbean are slated for August 17, 21 and 24.

Pune FC said that it would not release goalkeeper Subrata Paul and striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, for India's tour to the West Indies and England.

"We are not going to release Subrata and Jeje. Both the tours will have no bearing on India's points (in the ranking system) and seriously hampers the club's pre-season preparations. We had already conveyed our decision to the AIFF in writing earlier and the decision taken by the Emergency Committee on Monday does not change the stand we took earlier," said Chirag Tanna, Pune FC's Head, Operations.

Tanna was critical of the workload that both his players have had already.

"Jeje has been playing non-stop for the past 18 months and needs rest more than anything else at this hour, while goalkeeper Paul needs to recover from a niggle that he has been carrying for some time now," he said.

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