Dempo coach refuses to release players for national camp

By Abhishek Roy, IANS

Ludhiana : Dempo Sports Club has refused to release players for the Indian team’s training tour of Dubai but three other clubs – Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mahindra United – have decided to give priority to the national side as the club versus country debate reared its ugly head yet again.

Support TwoCircles

These four clubs provide the bulk of the talent for the national squad and hence are the worst affected with the training schedule before international engagements.

“The clubs do suffer due to the absence of the players when they are away for national duty. But what can we do, we have to release them in national nterest,” Mahindra coach Derek Pereira told IANS on the sidelines of the ongoing 29th Federation Cup football tournament here.

“But I think it is high time the federation thought about the clubs’ problem in releasing players for long periods. After all, it’s the clubs that pay the players’ salaries. So I think the All India Football Federation (AIFF) should compensate the clubs when players are called up for the national camp,” feels Pereira.

Mohun Bagan’s Brazilian coach Carlos Roberto Pereira da Silva and East Bengal coach and former India international Subrata Bhattacharya supported Pereira, adding that the AIFF should sit down with the clubs and the state associations to find a solution to this perennial problem.

“In Brazil, the federation and clubs cooperate with each other as they know that a strong national side and strong clubs are two sides of the same coin,” said da Silva, who coached the famous Vasco da Gama club to capture the Brazilain league title in the 1970s.

“Ideally, the national coach should take two-three players from each club for the long duration camps. Then his purpose is served without weakening the clubs too much,” said the Brazilian.

The club versus country debate plagues world football. The problem has now come to a head in India after Dempo coach Armando Colaco’s refusal to release his players for the exposure-cum-training tour of Dubai ahead of the Oct 8 first round 2010 World Cup qualification match in Lebanon.

“I will not release my players for the national camp in Dubai. We hardly get the services of these players after spending so much money on them. I don’t have any objection to my players leaving to play the World Cup qualifying matches,” said Colaco.

Dempo midfielders Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, defenders Mahesh Gawli and Sameer Naik form the core of the Indian team and Colaco’s refusal to release the players could invite penal action from the AIFF, since the world body FIFA has almost without fail backed the country against clubs in this perennial tug-of-war all round the globe.

Given the recent Nehru Cup success, Indian football hardly needs such road-blocks. And clubs need to realise that the national team’s results only help to raise the game’s profile in the country.

That apart, players stand to benefit from the wide exposure that training abroad provides. After all, the Indian team trained in Portugal for two weeks before the Nehru Cup in New Delhi and the results were there for all to see.