Kuruniyan ACL tear sparks row, Mohun Bagan ‘refuse’ to release players for Asian Games
Photograph: Kind Courtesy Ashique Kuruniyan/Instagram
Mohun Bagan Super Giant are “furious” with the way Ashique Kuruniyan’s injury was handled by the Indian physio during their King’s Cup match against Iraq and have decided not to release their players for the upcoming Asian Games.
The reigning Indian Super League champions, who are slated to begin their AFC Cup group stage campaign on September 19, have two players — Liston Colaco and Ashish Rai — in the 22-member squad for the Hangzhou showpiece whose football matches will begin on September 19.
The 26-year-old India midfielder sustained an injury around the hour mark and had to be replaced by Rahim Ali in their King’s Cup semifinal match against Iraq on September 7.
An MRI on Kuruniyan revealed an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tear and Mohun Bagan will form a medical board to address the issue, a Mohun Bagan official told PTI on Tuesday.
“For five days, they neglected his injury and didn’t even conduct an MRI. This is not something we’d expect from a Team India physio,” he asserted.
“If they had performed an MRI, we could have started physiotherapy earlier and minimised the extent of the injury.”
“In light of this episode, there is absolutely no consideration of releasing our players for the Asian Games,” he said.
If it’s a long-term injury then Mohun Bagan may also seek compensation, the team official further said.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had earlier urged the 10 Indian Super League franchises to release players selected for the upcoming Asian Games keeping the “national interest in mind”.
“We all have the responsibility towards the country to make India proud… As Indians we are obliged to make sacrifices for the country and, in this process, you have to take a decision by releasing the players considering the National interest in mind,” AIFF secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran had written to the clubs whose players figure in the 22-member Indian squad.
The Igor Stimac-coached side will begin its campaign against hosts China on September 19, followed by matches against Bangladesh (September 21) and Myanmar (September 24).
The dates are clashing with Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup and Indian Super League fixtures.
Two-time Inter-zonal semifinalists Mohun Bagan begin their AFC Cup group campaign against Odisha FC in Bhubaneswar on September 19 and they are slated to leave a day before.
In the ISL, which starts on September 21, the reigning champions have their first three matches on September 23 (Punjab FC), September 27 (Bengaluru FC) and October 7 (Chennaiyin FC).
AIFF hoping clubs would release any 22 players from list of 50 for Asian Games
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is hoping that the ISL clubs would release any 22 players from the registered 50 for the upcoming Asian Games, allowing the senior men’s team to participate in the continental showpiece.
Most of the clubs had shown unwillingness to release the 22 players named in the Indian squad that was released by the sports ministry, as the Asian Games’ football competition schedule clashes with the ISL, which starts on September 21.
The federation has also not ruled out the possibility of star players Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu travelling to Hangzhou, China with the team for the quadrennial extravaganza.
While the Games are scheduled from September 23 to October 8, the football event will kick off on September 19 and continue till October 7.
“AIFF is putting every effort to convince the clubs to cooperate to send the strongest national team to the Games,” a top official of the federation told PTI on Tuesday.
A federation source added, “AIFF is still negotiating but there is no clarity yet. Chhetri, Jhingan and Gurpreet are still not ruled out. It’s up to the clubs to release players they wish to. Any 22 from the long list of 50 will do.”
Bengaluru FC, FC Goa and Mohun Bagan Super Giants are among clubs who are not willing to release their players for the Games.
The Indian Super League schedule was announced earlier this month amid doubts over the release of a few India players by clubs for the Asian Games.
The league clashes with the Asian Games where the football competition begins on September 19 and continues till October 7.
The 22-member Indian men’s squad for the Asian Games has players from 10 ISL clubs and some of them are reluctant to release their players.
Out of the 22 players named in the squad, six are from Bengaluru FC, three from Mumbai City FC, while FC Goa, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Odisha FC, Kerala Blasters have two each.
Newly-promoted Punjab FC, Chennaiyin FC and Hyderabad FC have one each.
The AIFF had also written to the 10 ISL clubs to release their players selected for the Asian Games, keeping the “national interest in mind”.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had initially refused to clear the Indian football teams for the Asian Games on the ground that they were not ranked in the top-8 in Asia.
The AIFF then appealed to the sports ministry to allow the men’s and women’s sides to take part in the prestigious event with national senior team head coach Igor Stimac also seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention.