Coaches fume, chaos reigns ahead of 2015 SAFF Cup

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 22 (IANS) Absolute chaos reigned as the arrangements for the 2015 SAFF Championship that starts here on Wednesday have fallen flat on all fronts.

Coaches of the participating teams came down heavily on the way things have been organised at the pre-tournament press meeting which was held here on Tuesday.

Indian coach Stephen Constantine said there is nothing that is properly organised here ahead of the premier football tournament in the South Asian region.

“Tell me one thing that is in place for this year’s SAFF tournament. We are all disappointed with the way things have been organised here,” said an angry Constantine.

Patrick Aussems, coach of the Nepal team, said it took more than five hours of waiting in the hotel lobby to move into their rooms.

“We were sent to the wrong hotel first and then had to wait five hours in the lobby before we could get into our rooms,” fumed Aussems.

The tournament begins on Wednesday and ends on January 3. Host nation India, besides six other teams including defending champions Afghanistan, will compete for the trophy.

The other teams include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka. Pakistan, who were originally scheduled to compete here, have not turned up.

The event will be held at the brand new world class FIFA certified Greenfield Stadium in the state capital.

“We are yet to see the stadium and we are very disappointed about the way things are being organised. Everything is in bad shape right from our movement to the practise ground and the practise grounds are just two and we are seven teams,” said Sampath Perera, the Sri Lankan coach.

V.Sivankutty, CPI-M legislator and chairman of the local organising committee, put the blame for chaotic arrangements on the main organisers.

“I was hearing the grievances that were aired by the coaches and we have no role in this, as these are taken care of by the main organisers. We are very sorry to hear the complaints aired by the teams, as our state is known to be an excellent host. There has been no coordination so far between the main organiser and us and we have kept silent till now because, we do not want to play spoil sport at the eleventh hour. We hope to sort out with the main organisers all the issues and expect the tournament to go forward,” said Sivankutty.

The seven teams have been split into two groups with India placed in Group A alongside Nepal and Sri Lanka while in Group B it would be Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Each team will play the others in the groups and the two top teams from each group will qualify for the knockout stages.

There will be two matches every day with the first match starting at 3.30 pm and the second one at 6.30 pm.

Nepal will play Sri Lanka in the first match on Wednesday, while hosts India have got a walkover as Pakistan have not turned up.

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