The Indian national football team has been stuck for more than 10 hours at the Kuwait International airport and the Hamad International Airport in Doha as flash floods forced flights to be cancelled, rescheduled or diverted.
India is scheduled to take on Jordan on Saturday, November 17, at 10.30 pm IST in Amman, the capital. The players departed from Delhi for Amman via Kuwait City in two flights.
While one flight carrying seven players and eight officials landed in Kuwait City, the other one - with 15 players and the coach - was diverted to Doha because of the torrential rain in the middle east.
UPDATE: One batch of players has reached Amman while the other batch that has been stuck in Kuwait for more than 24 hours has finally taken off. Their flight will land at 19:30 IST.
Road, sea and traffic routes in and out of Kuwait have been suspended. Jordan too is in a similar state but it's not sure when the team will reach the Gulf nation.
The team has been stuck since 8.30 am IST and are awaiting the next update on the flight.
“There’s nothing one can do about natural calamities," Jeje Lalpekhlua, who will lead the forward line for India, told the AIFF. "We have to accept it and move ahead. Come what may, we are to play our hearts out and there won’t be any compromise on that. Our prayers stay with the people of Jordan during these tough times.”
The players kept each other another company and used the sparsely-available WiFi to watch clips on their mobile phones. The team manager took care of the players' food arrangements at the airport and the officials are in constant touch with the federation, informing them about the flight status.
The team is already missing its star player Sunil Chhetri because of an ankle injury. The flight delay and the dangerous situation outside the airport could further upset the players' moods.
Yet striker Balwant Singh put forth a brave face by saying they need to put up with it. “Delayed flights and unregulated delays disturb the routine a bit. But as professional players, it’s our job to cope up with it," Balwant told the AIFF.
India are playing their second friendly before the Asian Cup 2019 in January. They recently held higher-ranked China goalless in Suzhou but are expected to have a tough time in Jordan, who are ranked 112th in the world.