East Bengal, Mohun Bagan may fail AFC club licensing criteria

Kolkata, Sep 1 (IANS) Kolkata soccer giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan face the possibility of failing the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) club licensing criteria as neither of the outfits has a pro licensed coach, sources said.

Under the new AFC club licensing criteria, it is mandatory for clubs to have a pro licensed coach so as to make the cut for the AFC Champions League.

At a club licensing workshop organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) here on Thursday, both outfits were apprised of the criterion. Insiders said the two outfits may not be affected immediately as they are not playing in Asia’s biggest club meet, but will have to mend their ways by next season.

Both clubs, however, will get the national license which will be enough for them to take part in the I-League, and in case of Mohun Bagan the AFC Cup also.

Neither East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan, nor Mohun Bagan’s Sanjoy Sen has pro licence.

“The rules have been changed from this year. Clubs have to have a pro licence coach to play in the Champions League,” an insider told IANS on the sidelines of the workshop.

Asked about the development, Mohun Bagan Finance Secretary Debashish Dutta said: “This will apply from next year. This year, all is fine.”

The last date for submission of all licensing documents is September 22.

The workshop was also attended by representatives of Shillong Lajong FC.

This is the first time an I-League workshop is taking place outside New Delhi.

“This is done so that we can meet the clubs across the table and in a more integrated manner. We will go to Mumbai next to meet all the clubs from the West,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said.

From this season, there will be three age-group leagues, which is an addition to the two already in place. On top of the U-18 and U-15 Leagues, from next year there will be a dedicated U-13 League also.

“I am overwhelmed with the response of the U-15 and U-18 leagues. The participation has increased by leaps and bounds. Last year we had 38 teams in the U-15 league, this time it’s already over 50. In the U-18 league, it has jumped from 28 teams to over 40,” added Dhar.

The U-15 league this year is played as U-16 keeping in mind the U-17 World Cup next year and the age group matching the players who will represent India in the biggest soccer competition to be hosted by the country.

–IANS

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