The Stallions have stated that they are unable to participate in the tournament at this time of year.

This edition of the IFA Shield, an annual youth football competition that is organized by the Indian Football Association will not feature the reigning champions FC Pune City despite the release of a schedule that included the Stallions.

The IFA who are the governing body of football in West Bengal released a revised schedule late on Wednesday night in which Burnpur SAIL replaced the team from Pune. The 122nd edition of the IFA Shield is scheduled to kick-off later today.

Burnpur SAIL will take Pune City’s place in Group A along with East Bengal, ATK and Mohammedan SC.

Speaking exclusively to Khel Now, a Pune City official, who has requested anonymity stated, “We kept asking them for dates, but were not informed till early June. Finally, we asked our players to go for their annual break. Most of them were tired after playing in the I-league and the I-league Second Division.”

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He also stated that despite the club’s statement that they would not be participating in this year’s tournament, the original schedule was released by the IFA. “Now they inform us that the ShIELD is happening in July and we told them that we can’t participate. Still they published the schedule with our name. We would have loved to defend the title, but it’s unfortunate if the schedule is released only in the off-season for Indian Football,” said the official.

The IFA Shield is one of India’s oldest club competitions. East Bengal are the competitions most prolific winners, with a massive haul of 28 titles.

Group A of the competition will feature East Bengal, SAIL (Burnpur), Mohammedan Sporting Club and ATK, while Group B will include Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, TATA Football Academy and Bengal Football Academy.

The final of the competition is scheduled for the 19th of July 2018.