Forget IPL-style tournaments and marquee players. The All India Football Federation can start turning around Indian football by making sure their players have valid passports! In a farcical turn of events, the two players were sent home from the Indian football team’s preparatory camp for the SAFF Cup in Nepal because they did not have Indian passports. AIFF officials told TNIE that Mohammed Rafique and Karma Tsewang were sent home from the national team’s camp in Bangalore on Saturday, for lack of proper documentation.
“Rafique and Karma were sent home from the camp because they do not possess passports. Technically they can still travel to Nepal as passports are not needed for Indian nationals to travel to that country. But we needed their passports to register them for the tournament and hence had to sent them home,” said Shubhankar Mukherjee, director of the Indian football team.
Prayag United midfielder Rafique and Salgaocar midfielder Karma have been joined by Churchill Brothers defender Denzil Franco, who withdrew after sustaining an injury in India’s recent friendly against Tajikistan.
The departures mean that the squad available to national coach Wim Koevermans has now been cut down to 27. Koevermans will be unable to replace the trio as the deadline for making changes to the squad had passed on August 10. The probables for the camp had been announced a full month before the deadline.
A similar incident had happened in 2011 when defender Khelemba Singh and winger Gilber Oliveira missed out on a friendly with Maldives due to them not having passports.