With the Asian Games around the corner, there were dark clouds looming over India’s participation in the Men’s football event of the meet in Jakarta, but as of now the ‘Blue Tigers’ can make a cut. As per tradition, the team yielded no fruitful results in the past editions and sending them was seen as a waste of money. But the recent progress of the National Team in world football and a steep rise in the rankings to the 97th position may compel the Association to think otherwise.
As per the criteria, the top 8 teams from the last edition will be allowed to take the field in Jakarta according to which India fails to qualify. The fact that India is still ranked 15th in Asia does not help their cause. But the recent records of the Stephen Constantine led team has been impressive and they also qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, but sadly the Asian Games is mainly an Under-23 affair.
IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta feels that there is still a ray of hope as the criteria are not hard and fast, they are just guidelines. The IOA has sent a long list of the proposed Indian contingent which includes 2370 members which have to be curtailed according to how many cases the criteria mentioned is applied.
Speaking of India’s chance of appearing in the upcoming Jakarta Asian Games, Rajeev Mehta said, “The criteria are not hard and fast ones, but just guidelines. We cannot punish sports that are on an upward curve and have even qualified for the continental championship. Such cases need to be discussed thoroughly before a final decision is taken.”
In the last edition of the Asian Games which was held in Incheon, China, India was hammered by the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in the group stages of the event. In the final standings, India was at the 26th spot out of the total 29 teams which played. Time will tell whether India gets a chance to play at the mega event which begins on 18th August in Jakarta, Indonesia.