Thiruvananthapuram | Teams participating at the 11th South Asian Football Federation Championships, starting here tomorrow today said they look forward to competitive matches but voiced dissatisfaction over lack of facilities.
Addressing a pre-match press conference, coaches of participating teams-India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh, said they were disappointed due to poor organisation.
Peter Segrt, coach of defending champion Afghanistan, said they faced lot of problems with regard to accommodation, travel and even in getting a training ground.
All coaches replied in the negative when asked if their teams had visited the stadium here where the tournament will be held till January 3.
However, Segrt said we have to accept the situation. People here are very good. But we are happy to be here to play in the tournament. We will try to do our best.
Voicing similar sentiments on the facilities, Indian coach Stephen Constantine said he had not faced this kind of problem anywhere. He also said no one was taking responsibility for the poor organisation of the event.
However, Indian team captain Sunil Chhetri said we have to think about the game and we are doing it.
On the championship, he said they were looking forward to good matches and it would be a good experience and exposure for the youngsters. Being a home crowd, we hope to perform better, he added.
Coaches of Nepal, Patrick Aussems, Sri Lanka K M Sampath Perera, Maldives Richi Herbert, Bhutan Perma, Bangladesh A K Maruful Haque, and captains of all the seven teams were also present at the conference.
India, Nepal, Sri Lanka are in Group A, while Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh are in Group B.
Pakistan had pulled out of the tournament due to security reasons. The opening match is between Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Soon after the pre-match press conference, state organising Committee Working President V Sivankutty, also local CPI(M) member of legislature, put the blame for poor facilities on the event organisers.
Everything is done by them. Travel, accommodation and other logistic support are being made by them. It is very sad that foreign teams coming to Kerala have to face such a situation, he said.
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