THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: After the I-league matches which served as an appetizer, football buffs in the city who waited for a thrilling continuation in the G V Raja Tournament would only be disappointed.
While some of the top teams opted out of the ninth edition of the tourney citing busy schedules, a couple of big guns were shunned by the organisers leaving the soccer-crazy public in despair. They will now have to be contended with second division teams.
S Geevarghese, secretary of the Thiruvananthapuram District Football Association, told Express that the upcoming tournament is being viewed as a platform for the second division teams. ”We have to provide the minnows a platform where they can showcase their talents and move up the rung regarding their playing standards. For this reason, we have decided to invite second division teams like Punjab Police, Tamil Nadu IX and Sesa Goa,” he said.
Inspite of the hectic schedule, some of the elite teams performing in the I-league were interested in performing here. But they were dissuaded after the association took a tough stand that it does not want big sharks for the tournament, which is scheduled to start on January 27.
”Vasco Goa and Lajong FC Shillong were interested to come over. But this time, we have decided not to field those teams, and also our financial condition does not allow us to do so,” Geevarghese said.
Reacting to the decision of the organising committee, SBT coach V P Shaji said he had expected better news this time around. ”The clubs who couldn’t make it to the I-league should get the opportunity to play with the top teams. Then only can we identify the potentials and flaws of our players and game pattern,” he said.
Meanwhile, football fans have started questioning the logic behind holding such a tournament during this busy season, when the teams will be caught in tight schedules. ”Even if we are invited, we won’t be able to play here. We have committed to the IFA shield and other tournaments, which will be held in the same period,” said K Prashanthan, manager of Chirag United, the state’s lone contender for this season’s I-league.