The players were set to meet up over a six-week period ahead of the SAFF Championship later this year.
With the SAFF Championship 2018 just over a month away, defending champions India are being plagued by problems internally, with most of the selected players not being allowed to start training with the national team. According to the Telegraph, the AIFF has complained over the parent Indian Super League clubs of most of these players- led by Bengaluru FC– questioning the point of their players leaving for the national camp so early.
Several ISL clubs have already started pre-season conditioning and are training hard to get prepared for the gruelling season ahead. While Kerala Blasters’ pre-season campaign might be the most glittering one, the other ISL clubs have also started preparing for pre-season training and are expected to fully begin it in August. Many of the players, chosen to represent the country in the SAFF Championship are currently playing in the ISL and because it might hamper their pre-season preparations, Bengaluru are shockingly questioning the need for the players to train with the national team.
“Since the SAFF tournament will be played from September 4-15 in Bangladesh and the ISL will begin almost immediately, the Bangalore franchise have asked what is the need for keeping players away from the club for 45 days,” said an AIFF official to the Telegraph.
This is not the first time the ISL clubs have stopped players from leaving for the national camp. Back in 2015, India’s 2018 World Cup Qualifying match’s preparatory camp against Turkmenistan had to be called off due to the ISL sides not allowing their players to leave. The ISL clubs wanted their players to keep on training with them in order to gel together with the rest of the squad and it seems a similar issue is plaguing the national team this time.
Being the defending champions, India will have a lot of expectations on their shoulders when they head to Bangladesh in the first week of September. But, at least a month of training in the national camp is required for these boys- who’ve let themselves go in the off-season- to get prepared for such a rigorous tournament. Not only do the players need to get back in shape, but need to form a synchronization if they are to challenge for the championship yet again.
It’s been reported that the national camp is scheduled to take place in the national capital for a few weeks, before Stephen Constantine’s men head to Australia to play some friendlies in order to prepare themselves for the tournament. But, all that seems to be up in the air right now due to the ISL clubs holding the AIFF hostage in not letting their players leave for preparations with the national team.
Constantine will return to India soon and discuss upon a solution for this persisting problem with the AIFF officials. But with the ISL sides holding firm on not letting the players leave so early, India’s SAFF Championship preparations seems to be in utter disarray and this issue has created an unnecessary tension within the camp already.