India men’s football team head coach Igor Stimac has made an impassioned plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, urging them to allow the Indian team to participate in the upcoming Asian Games 2022 in China.
The Indian football team is unlikely to compete in the Asian Games for the second consecutive edition as it does not meet the criteria set by the Sports Ministry, which requires teams to be among the top 8 sides in the continent. Despite this, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has shortlisted 40 players for the tournament, which is primarily for Under-23 players with three overage players allowed in the squad, and appointed senior coach Igor Stimac to lead the team.
Stimac took to Twitter to express his heartfelt appeal, saying, “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!” He attached a letter to his tweet.
In the letter, Stimac addressed Prime Minister Modi directly, highlighting the unfortunate situation where the Indian football team has been denied the opportunity to participate and represent the Indian flag at the upcoming Asian Games. He reminded the Prime Minister of India’s successful hosting of the U-17 FIFA World Cup in 2017 and the significant investments made in nurturing a new generation of talented players. He also praised the Prime Minister’s continuous support towards India’s dream of participating in the FIFA World Cup, expressing confidence that with such backing, India can eventually compete on the global stage in prestigious tournaments.
Stimac emphasized that the national team has worked diligently over the past four years, achieving notable results and demonstrating their potential for greater success if they receive support from all stakeholders. He referred to the Prime Minister’s recent speech in France, where he discussed football and mentioned Kylian Mbappe, stating that it inspired and resonated with all Indians who are passionate about and dream of Indian football.
The coach drew immediate attention to the U-17 team from 2017, which displayed impressive performances in the U-23 World Cup qualifiers and is brimming with talent. Stimac expressed disappointment that this talented team is now being denied the opportunity to participate in the Asian Games.
By making this heartfelt appeal, Stimac hopes to gain the support necessary to allow the Indian football team to represent the nation at the Asian Games, contributing to the growth and development of football in India.