The national football coach Wim Koevermans has expressed concern over Mohun Bagan’s suspension from the I-League, worrying that the decision leaves the club’s Indian internationals without game time.
“From the national team point of view, a lot of players can’t play at the moment and I’m not happy with that,” Koevermans said here on Sunday. “But something happened on the pitch and rules were applied.
“If it’s in the rulebook, that’s the way it is. Two and a half years is tough punishment but the clubs know the rules.”
The Dutchman hoped, however, that the situation would be revisited.
“What I’ve heard is that there will be another meeting; let’s see what the outcome is. In the meantime, the players are training. Hopefully they can play some matches, but if that takes a half-year or so…I can’t say what will happen,” he said.
India’s immediate assignment is the friendly with Palestine in Guwahati on February 6, a FIFA-allocated date for international fixtures.
“We want to play as many games as possible. We intend to utilise every FIFA date available,” the 52-year-old said. “We’re not sure which countries are available but we’ve sent some letters and got a few replies already.”
The national team will then camp to prepare for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers (Myanmar, March). India has been grouped with Guam, Chinese Taipei and the host, a potentially difficult draw although only Myanmar is ranked higher.
“We should have the mentality to go into any tournament or game to try and win it,” Koevermans said. “In the Nehru Cup all the teams were above our FIFA ranking but in the end we beat them.
“I don’t look too far ahead. We want to qualify for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, win the SAFF Cup (Nepal, Sep-Oct), and climb up the ladder of the FIFA rankings.”