Dempo agree but other clubs still reluctant
New Delhi: Indian football team`s tour of the West Indies later this month still hangs in balance with three top I-League clubs refusing to release their players though Dempo have conditionally agreed to the AIFF`s request.
Kolkata giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan were still adamant that they would not release all their players while Pune FC also said their goalkeeper Subrata Paul and striker Jeje Lalpekhlua would be called back from the national camp.
East Bengal, who have five national players on board, maintained that they would not release Mehtab Hossain and Harmanjot Singh Khabra as the duo needed rest, while they had no issues with the other three -- Baljit Singh Sahni, Raju Gaekwad and Robert Lalthlamuana -- joining the Indian team.
Arch rivals Mohun Bagan said if East Bengal do not release all their players, they would not allow striker Sunil Chhetri and Syed Rahim Nabi for the tour though they have no problem with Jewel Raja joining the national team.
Both Mohun Bagan and Est Bengal are meeting their state body Indian Football Association officials to sort out the matter.
The beleaguered AIFF, however, would be happy that Dempo today agreed to allow all their nine players to join the national squad though under the condition that the Goan side will recall all of them if other clubs refuse to release even a single player.
Dempo had earlier shot off a letter to the national federation to send back their players from the national camp; met in Goa on Tuesday after AIFF general secretary Kushal Das called up club president Srinivas Dempo requesting to release the players.
The meeting was attended by India coach and Dempo secretary Armando Colaco.
"We have decided to release all our nine players as requested by the AIFF in the interest of football in the country. But it is under the condition that we reserve the right to recall all our players if any other club does not release even a single player in the national squad," Dempo said.
The emergency committee of the AIFF had requested the five I-League clubs to release their players for the West Indies tour in the interest of football in the country.
The Indian team is scheduled to leave for the Caribbean tour on August 12 to play three international friendlies with Barbados (August 17), Trinidad and Tobago (August 21) and Guyana (August 24).
The players will return on August 26, leaving them nearly three weeks to join the pre-season camp before the Federation Cup begins on September 17.
The Indian Under-23 team will also undertake an exposure trip to United Kingdom next month to play an international friendly with Pakistan and friendlies with England U-23 and Scotland U-21 teams.