Meghalaya had fielded a new-look squad against Odisha in the sub-junior National football championship final for the Coca-Cola Cup at Father Agnel’s Sports Complex on Wednesday.
Seven from the north-east State, who played in the semifinal win over Karnataka (including captain and first choice goalkeeper Frolicson Dkhar), were dropped for the title clash by the team management to avoid protests over fielding overage footballers in a national final.
Meghalaya manager, Kiran Joshi, confirming changes in team composition for the final, said: “We did not include the seven players to avoid problems. Why take risks when we were confident of winning without them. We played without our main goalkeeper. We consider all 20 boys on our team to be equal and if you notice, we played with a short goalkeeper.”
The sub-junior National is open for children in the 12-15 age group and helps in spotting talent for India Under-16 squad. The group games were played at DSK Shivajians ground, Pune, where Meghalaya drew with Jharkhand 0-0, beat Uttar Pradesh 10-0, Kerala 1-0 to top Group C and qualify for the semifinals at Goan Sports Association ground, Churchgate.
Team manager Joshi said that the entire squad had undergone medical examination at Pune.
The decision forced on the Meghalaya team management removed doubts about the title clash turning into a mismatch. The results in the semifinals and group games with the full squad in games against Karnataka, Jharkhand, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh will be under a shadow.
India is among the bidders for the U-17 FIFA World Cup football in 2017 and the talent pool identified at Navi Mumbai in 2013 and Kalyani in 2012 will be considered for selection.