NEW DELHI: Age-group teams (boys and girls) and the senior men’s national football team have a couple of crucial assignments lined up. While the pandemic has disrupted quite a few plans, All India Football Federation is in talks with various state governments for starting their national camps soon. AFC U-16 Championship is three months away, and the team is in a difficult group.
The U-17 women’s World Cup is in February. And the men’s team have World cup qualifiers, starting off against Qatar in Bhubaneswar on October 8. “The first important camp is for U-16 boys. The U-17 girls also need to start soon. We’ve been talking to governments and Sports Authority of India (SAI). Hopefully, we’ll start both camps soon. Some states have rigid protocols, so we might need to shift in that case,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told AIFF TV. AIFF wants the men’s camp in Bhubaneswar and give coach Igor Stimac a month to work with players. “Our plan is to start in early September. We want Bhubaneswar since the match against Qatar is there.
We’re in touch with Odisha and SAI, and expecting a response. It’s a very tricky situation, but we need the best solution.” Before the 2017 edition, U-17 men went on numerous exposure tours. AIFF had similar plans for U-16 men and U-17 women. Despite the current situation, the governing body is looking to facilitate a few tours. “I’m hoping that we can arrange some, especially for the U-16 team. At least one tour before going to Bahrain. But, at this point, it’s difficult to predict.
The other teams are also on the same boat. But Uzbekistan, Australia and Korea Republic have resumed training, so we also need to do that.” The secretary also said that U-17 women’s coach Thomas Dennerby was satisfied with what preparation plans for the event. “He felt that exposure trips would certainly add more experience. We’ll see what we can do. For U-17 girls, we think that maybe by November, December, things will get better. We can manage a few tours.”