Nepal | December 15, 2019

Coaches protest football fixture

Demand at least one-day rest between matches of the regional games

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, December 1

Maldives and Sri Lanka today expressed their dissatisfaction over the rescheduling of football tournament under the 13th South Asian Games here today.

Speaking at the pre-tournament press conference, Maldives coach Petr Segrt was more vocal and spat venom on the organisers accusing them of trying to kill the players. “The change in schedule without prior information is not acceptable.

We cannot play matches every other day as we need to protect the rights of the players,” he said.

The All Nepal Football Association changed the schedule after India withdrew from the tournament.

Scrapping the league-cumknockout format among the six participating teams, the ANFA rescheduled the fixtures to round-robin format.

As per the schedule, Bangladesh will face Bhutan, while Maldives will play against Sri Lanka in the opening day matches on Tuesday. Defending champions Nepal will open the campaign with a match against Bhutan on Wednesday.

“If a team does not come, it will lose 3-0. It is written in the laws of the game and that should not be challenged,”

Segrt said. “Playing every day will affect the quality of football as we have just 20 players including three goalkeepers. This is not a fun tournament and I hope the tie sheet will be restored to the normal one. If not, the organisers can give us oneday rest after each match,” he added. Segrt said he would discuss the matter with FA and players tonight before deciding on whether to participate in the tournament or not.

“Football is important for South Asia and for this country.

We are being made to pay for the team which is not taking part,” he said. Maldives captain Akram Abdul Ganee also said playing every day was not possible.

“We came to know about the new schedule through Facebook and this is not the right way to football,” he added.

Sri Lanka head coach MN Packeer Ali said they were wondering about the change in schedule against the rules and regulations. “We had prepared our strategy as per the schedule but now we are not sure of our after the change in schedule,” said Ali.

“The teams have 20 players in their squad and it is not possible to play matches every day and that will cause injury to the players. The level of football will go down if we have to play every day and we request the concerned authorities to consider changing the schedule,” he added.

He also accused the hosts of taking undue advantage.

“The schedule clearly shows that certain teams get adequate rest. In football, we talk about Fair Play and it should be equal to all teams,” he said. Ali said he had already forwarded the schedule to his FA. “I will not take decision on my own as it’s up to the federation to decide on the matter.”

Sri Lanka captain MNM Fazal said his team’s target was to win the championship.

“We hope to put up a good game and win the title,” he said.

Bhutan coach Pema Dorji said the team was well prepared despite having oneweek time due to domestic league. “I am not happy with the schedule but as the fixture is out, you have to play,” said Dorji. Asked about the opponents of the first match, Dorji said: “Bangladesh are strong side but we are also not bad.”

Bhutan captain Chencho Gyeltshen said they were underdogs in the tournament and they had come to Nepal with high hopes. “We do not have anything to say about the fixtures as we are here to play football. It would have been nice if we had adequate rest between the matches,” he added.

Bangladesh coach Jamie Day said the schedules were ridiculous and it was not right to play back to matches.

“If I was a player, I would not be happy with this fixture,” said Day. “We will play tomorrow and assess the situation with players before deciding on rotating the team members for another match,” he added.

Bangladesh skipper Jamal Bhuyan said the schedule was not favourable but the team had no option to compete.

“The fixture is out and we have to live with it. We cannot do anything on it,” said Bhuyan. “It would be great if we can win gold medal as it will be an asset for Bangladesh where the standard of football is going up,” he added.

A version of this article appears in print on December 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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