AFA miffed with Yemen

Guwahati, Nov. 9: The Assam Football Association (AFA) has expressed anguish over the "eleventh hour" cancellation of the India-Yemen international friendly football match here and has requested the AIFF to move the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to initiate action against Yemen for failing to keep the commitment.

Yemen were scheduled to play India at Indira Gandhi athletic stadium here on November 14, which is a Fifa date. The match got cancelled yesterday as the visitors could not get the Gulf Air tickets as well as the visa for all their players because of delay in booking and submission of visa application, said AFA secretary Ankur Dutta, who is also a vice-president of the AIFF.

"It is very unfortunate for the people of Northeast in particular and India in general. If Yemen had committed for the match, they should have taken it up seriously and completed the necessary formalities in time. I have requested the AIFF to move the AFC for action against that country," Dutta told The Telegraph here today.

"We have spent a lot of time and energy as well as money in preparing for the match. All those have gone in vain. Let's hope we get compensated by the AIFF not in the form of money but with another match against a better nation on a Fifa date in the near future," the AFA secretary added. Asked if a better-rated country would agree to play at the same stadium which hardly conforms to Fifa-stipulated regulations for international football, Dutta said, "We have requested the state government to look into the dressing rooms facilities and improve the turf, which is infested with earthworms and weed. Besides, the stands must have as many chairs as possible. There has to be a proper media centre facility, dugouts among other improvements."

"We need to prepare the stadium not only for international friendlies but also as a venue for the 2017 World Cup under-17 tournament for which Guwahati is shortlisted as one of the six venues if India wins the bid for hosting the mega event," Dutta added.