Doha: Indian football team suffered yet
another blow before their Asian Cup opening match against
Australia on Monday as they were told that striker Sushil Singh
will not be available for two matches because of a pending
ban on him.
Sushil is yet to serve a two-match ban after he was shown
a red card against North Korea in the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup
in Sri Lanka.
India took part in the AFC Challenge Cup in February 2010
under the charge of Sukhwinder Singh and All India Football
Federation apparently did not inform coach Bob Houghton about
Sushil`s pending two-match ban was told by the AFC at the
manager`s meeting ahead of India`s Asian Cup opening match
against Australia tomorrow.
Sushil trained with the national squad for the last eight
months, travelling with the team in UAE and Portugal camps.
He was given 15 per cent hike as he was under contract
for eight months with AIFF since June 2010, just like any
other players in the national squad as part of the programme
to prepare for the Asian Cup.
The incident added embarrassment to the AIFF after the
registration drama of captain Bhaichung Bhutia.
Bhutia, who was struggling to recover from a calf muscle
injury, was first de-registered as a player to make him an
official to pep up the morale of his team-mates only to be re-
registered again as a player.
With Sushil only available for the third and last Group C
match against South Korea on January 18 and Bhutia`s
availability doubtful, India are left with only Sunil Chhetri
and Abhisek Yadav as strikers.