Tuesday, August 07, 2007

World Cup matches force India to modify program

The All India Football Federation is hoping its Lebanon counterpart will assist in modifying the the pre-World Cup 2010 draw issued by the Asian Football Confederation. With Round One of the pre-qualifiers scheduled for the middle of India's overcrowded domestic football calendar, the AIFF has sent a message to Lebanon asking them to agree to play an advanced return leg preferably within one week of the first leg which is slated to be played on 8 October. Originally scheduled for 28 October, India has asked Lebanon to agree to play the second leg at least a fortnight earlier, as that would not set back by a great deal the start of the inaugural I-League which was originally slated to begin on 30 September. The Asian draw has even caught Lebanon by surprise. Should they manage to beat India, they will meet the winners of the North Korea and Mongolia game on 18 November (second leg). The slight logistical problem here is that Lebanon are already due to play a pre-Olympic tie a day earlier.

The AIFF told Times of India it had asked national coach Bob Houghton what dates he preferred. Houghton reportedly suggested that playing within a week of each other was the best solution as the team too would be in fine fettle. Whatever the changes in the dates for the double-leg knockout qualifier, the start of India's first professional league stands postponed due to the 8 October first leg match and a bout of heavy rain which held up the second round of the the ongoing Goan League. "Whatever Lebanon’s decision, definitely the league will be postponed by almost a month," Savio Messias, secretary of the Goan Football Association told the newspaper.

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