NEW DELHI: Sunil Chhetri has been adjudged the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year. The decision was taken at the annual general meeting of the AIFF held here on Sunday.
Chettri, the first Delhi player to earn this honour, began his career with City Club before venturing to the maidans of Kolkata. Presently contracted with JCT, the ace striker has had a wonderful year even though he has struggled for form in the ongoing I-League.
“I have played so much in Delhi. It’s a great feeling to be clubbed with some of the legends,” said Chhetri, who played his first competitive match at the Ambedkar Stadium as a ten-year-old.
Chettri joins an elite group that includes I.M. Vijayan, Jo Paul Ancheri, Baichung Bhutia, Deepak Mondal, Surkurmar Singh, S. Venkatesh, Bruno Coutinho and Climax Lawrence. Vijayan is the only player to have been adjudged Player of the Year thrice since the award was first instituted in 1992.
Among the major decisions at the AGM, the AIFF has deferred the decision on exempting the I-League players from participating in the local leagues. The house, however, endorsed the suggestion of the AIFF President P.R. Dasmunsi that I-League players should not be allowed to compete in their respective State leagues.
The AIFF has formed a core group comprising Mr. Dasmunsi, AIFF Vice-Presidents Subroto Dutta and C.R. Vishwanathan and Secretaries of all the local organising committees of the I-League matches and some club representatives to submit a report by January 31. The committee would look at the best possible solution to break the deadlock following non-agreement by the Goa Football Association and Indian Football Association, the two associations most affected.
The next edition of the Santosh Trophy will be held in Jammu and Kashmir in May, 2008 while the Rani Jhansi Championship has been allotted to Delhi.
The AIFF has also decided to grant a sum of Rs. three lakh each to ten associations, including six from the north-east, for promoting the game.
Meanwhile, the Indian team that qualified for the final round of the Asian under-16 championship has been invited to tour the United States later this year.
Originally slated to play the first round of qualifiers for the 2011 Asian Cup football championship, India got a pleasant surprise when it was automatically promoted to the second round of the competition.
India was seeded 22nd for the qualifiers to be held next year and was scheduled to play one of the teams seeded between 20th and 27th.
But the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has now put India into the second round qualifier, which puts it just one tie away from making it to the main event in Qatar.