NEW DELHI: Indian senior football team head coach Igor Stimac on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur to allow the national football team to play in the Asian Games in China this year.
This comes amid reports that India will not be sending its football teams to the Asian Games, which will be held in China from September 23 to October 8 this year. India has won two Asian Games gold medals (1951 and 1962) and a bronze medal (1970) in football.
“A humble appeal and sincere request to Honourable Prime Minister Sri @narendramodi
ji and Hon. Sports Minister @ianuragthakur, to kindly allow our football team to participate in the Asian games We will fight for our nation’s pride and the flag! Jai Hind!,” tweeted Stimac.
A humble appeal and sincere request to Honourable Prime Minister Sri @narendramodi ji and Hon. Sports Minister @ianuragthakur, to kindly allow our football team to participate in the Asian games 🙏🏽
We will fight for our nation’s pride and the flag! 🇮🇳
Jai Hind!#IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/wxGMY4o5TN
— Igor Štimac (@stimac_igor) July 17, 2023
“Honourable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi ji, I am not sure if someone would have briefed you or updated you about the Indian teams participating in the upcoming Asian Games, where the most important and key global sport “football” team has been deprived from participating and representing the Indian flag,” said Stimac’s note to PM and Sports Minister.
Stimac said that India hosted the U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 and invested heavily in building a very fine new generation of players.
“You have always supported India’s dream of playing in the FIFA World Cup one day and I am certain that if we have your continuous support in the manner we have received till date, the day is not far when we will be at the global stage participating in the most prestigious tournaments,” he added.
The coach said that the team has worked really hard over the last four years and managed great results, proving that Indian football can achieve more with support from stakeholders.
“Your speech about football and Mbappe (Kylian Mbappe, France football star) in your recent visit to France also touched all Indians dreaming and rooting for Indian football,” he added.
Stimac said that he wanted to bring PM’s immediate attention that the U-17 team from 2017, which also gave a great performance at the U-23 World Cup qualifiers and is one very talented team, is now being deprived of participating in the Asian games.
“This team really needs and deserves the participation. The reasons given are unjust and as India’s national team coach, I felt it is important to immediately bring this matter to your and the Hon’ble Sports Minister Anurag Thakur’s knowledge. So that you could intervene and help the team participate in the Asian Games,” he said.
“There are hopes and prayers of 1 billion Indians for the beautiful game and we need such participation. As our own ministry is denying participation on the context of ranking. Whereas the fact is that our football team is better ranked than some of the other sports teams which have been allowed participation in the Asian games. Also, history and statistics are testimony to the fact that football is one sport where a lower-ranked team has a chance to beat the top-ranked teams,” he continued.
Lastly, Stimac appealed to PM Modi and the Union Sports Minister on behalf of the entire Indian Football fraternity, to allow the Indian football team to participate in the Asian games.
“We will fight for our nation’s pride and the flag! Jai Hind!,” he concluded.
Indian football has had a great year. India has won the Intercontinental Cup and SAFF Championship this year. The national senior men’s side also rose to the number 100 position in FIFA World Rankings recently. (ANI)