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U-23 national team to miss part of ISL

Posted on Apr 26 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, April 26 : The much touted Indian Super League (ISL) will be without top Indian Under-23 footballers for a brief period while the senior team stars too will miss out on some of the matches due to national duty.

The pro league is scheduled to kick off Sep 19 and the dates are clashing with FIFA friendlies and also the Asian Games.

The top U-23 players may not be able to play the first half of the ISL as the dates are clashing with the Incheon Asian Games, also starting Sep 19.

The league rules make it mandatory for each club to recruit at least four U-23 players from the catchment area but all the top players will be busy with Asian Games preparations right from July.

To make matters worse, there are nine FIFA dates for friendlies in September-November and India coach Wim Koevermans is keen on playing as many matches as the All India Football Federation could arrange for. Playing these matches will mean garnering some crucial ranking points.

"There are no problems. The ISL and IMG-R understand that the U-23 players will be away on national duty for a brief time. As for the international friendlies, the senior team players will be released for maximum two or three friendlies," AIFF vice president Subrata Dutta told reporters on the sidelines of the fifth AFC Football Medical Conference here Saturday.

"Yes there are nine FIFA dates in that period but the national team cannot play on all dates, financially it's not possible. So some players might miss out on one or two ISL matches, that's all and the organisers of the tournament know this," Shubhankar Mukherjee, Director, National Teams said.

The U-23 team will be busy with a series of training camps starting from July. The Indian team will have a conditioning camp in Bangalore before leaving for training in either Spain or China. Then team after a brief stay at home will fly out to South Korea well in advance to get acclimatised.

That means the ISL teams will be without top national U-23 players in their preparatory camps. Even if the teams recruit the U-23 players before India selectors pick the squad, they will not be training with them.

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