The Indian men's football team's participation in the Asian Games was today thrown into confusion after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), amid AIFF's optimism, said it will stick to its criteria for team events, which the sport does not meet at the moment.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF), which is believed to have got positive fillers from the Sports Ministry, stated that it is very hopeful of being cleared for the multi-sport extravaganza.
However, the IOA's contention is that it can only send the top eight sides in team events as per the norm.
"I will not speak about individual sports but the criteria of top 8 in team events and top 6 in individual events stand. We will stick to that, IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said.
When contracted AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said, "Our president Mr Praful Patel has spoken to Mr Narinder Batra (IOA president) and we are very hopeful of our team being sent to the Asian Games."
"And it's not just about the men's team. Football has to be seen in a different light and it can't be compared to handball or any other sport. I have the highest regard for Mr Batra and Mr Rajeev Mehta. We are confident of going to the Asian Games," Das added.
Indian men's team is currently ranked 97th in the world and 16th in Asia, but the football body wants the authorities to look beyond rankings under the present circumstances.
India recently won the Intercontinental Cup after beating Kenya 2-0 in the final at Mumbai. India's sizzling performance in the tournament gave credence to chief coach Stephen Constantine's belief that the team should be the sent to the Games.
Infact, prior to the Intercontinental Cup final in Mumbai, Constantine had appealed to the government to send a team for the mega sporting event.
"We need more games and if the government is listening, send us to the Asian games. It's an U-23 event and we have 11 players in this squad who are below 23. The benefits the players will gain from the Asian Games will be huge, Constantine had said.