Panaji: The absence of two key soccer players, Syed Rahim Nabi and Mehtab Hussain, from the Indian football team, which will leave for the West Indies tour this evening, raised eyebrows, but it was soon clarified that they will travel next week.
The Kolkata duo is understood to have had some visa issues and will travel to the Caribbean only on Monday, but the absence of Hussain (East Bengal) and Nabi (Mohun Bagan) was enough to set the proverbial cat among the pigeons. The team will leave from Kolkata with stopover in riot-hit London.
All nine players of Dempo Sports Club got together and informed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that they had received express instructions from the management not to board the flight if all players, especially those from the Kolkata clubs, were not on board, sources said.
Soon phones started ringing and it was only a matter of time before Dempo`s approval was sought.
"We got a call from the federation explaining why Mehtab and Nabi were not travelling with the team. They have some issues with the transit visa (to England) and would travel on Monday. We have been assured that the manager would accompany them," said Dempo manager Custodio Almeida.
The influential duo would miss the first friendly against Barbados on August 17, but would be available for the next two friendlies against the national teams of Guyana (August 21) and Trinidad and Tobago (August 24).
The team was to leave for London yesterday en-route to the West Indies but the departure had to be postponed due to security concerns in the UK capital. AIFF, however, has said the flight route will not be changed.
Meanwhile, Dempo midfielder Climax Lawrence is almost certain to be named the captain for the tour as coach Armando Colaco has said he "wanted to have some continuity".