Tuesday, Oct 21, 2003
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By S.R. Suryanarayan
There was another depression looming over the organising machinery of the Afro-Asian Games with uncertainty and delay in the arrival of the teams, leading to the football kick-off getting deferred by a day to Wednesday.
The football event was set to roll in the much-publicised Games on Tuesday with host India and Rwanda to feature in the opening match followed by (under floodlights) Malaysia and Ghana, the last minute replacement for Cameroon at the Lal Bahadur stadium.
But Rwanda and Ghana were yet to arrive. There were expectations that the two special flights from Nairobi today would have the footballers too. But disappointment was in store for the organising committee.
Information then came from the AIFF Secretary, Alberto Colaco, who is camping here and coordinating with the Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF), that Rwanda and Ghana would land in Hyderabad only on Tuesday.
"We cannot ask them to play straightaway. A day's postponement was thus necessary. Ghana, in fact, is arriving only in the night but the team management has agreed to take the field the next day. This change will not affect the schedule since we can utilise the rest day on October 24,'' he said.
Mr Colaco said Burkina Faso was the only African team which had confirmed arrival on Tuesday.
As of now only three teams are here Uzbekistan, Malaysia and host India. Iran's under-23 squad is the other Asian representative, which is expected here on Wednesday as also Zimbabwe.
"What has upset the schedule is the lack of communication on the arrival plans of most African teams,'' he said.
With rain in the afternoon keeping the teams indoors only Uzbekistan could manage an outing in the morning. There is hope that the rains will clear as also the cloud of uncertainty once the African teams arrive. After all this is a `Games of two continents and one spirit'.
Meanwhile, the AFC technical delegate, Indran, ruled out the use of the Balayogi stadium in Gachibowli and decided on the Goshambal Stadium as the second venue, apart from the Lal Bahadur stadium. Even at the Goshambal stadium the facilities were only getting upgraded and how much the rain has come in the way or will affect the flow of the game there, only the next few days would tell.
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