IM Vijayan, the former Indian football team skipper and current chairman of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical committee, has expressed his aspiration for India's participation in the 2023 Asian Games scheduled to take place in China later this year.
After an immensely successful two-month period, the Blue Tigers were dealt a major blow when their participation in the 2023 Asian Games was denied.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) received a letter indicating that only teams ranked within the top eight among Asian nations would be eligible for team events. The Indian men's team is ranked 18th, while the Women’s team held the 10th spot, resulting in their exclusion from the competition.
Current senior team head coach Igor Stimac was poised to lead the side to China after participating in the King’s Cup in September. The three-time SAFF Championship winner, Vijayan, is hoping for the team's participation in the competition, recognizing the invaluable experience it would offer the under-23 side.
During the inauguration of the Anjan Mitra media center at his former club Mohun Bagan, Vijayan shared his thoughts on the matter:
"I feel the Indian team needs to participate in the Asian Games as it gives us a wealth of experience. The (senior) Indian team has been doing quite well this year and I am hopeful that it will be continuing with its performance in the Asian Games too."
"The Indian team will be playing in some big tournaments like the Asian Cup and the World Cup qualifiers later in the year and the Asian Games experience can add a lot of value."
In addition to Stimac's open letter to the Sports Ministry of India, Vijayan mentioned that the AIFF has made an appeal to the Prime Minister, seeking reconsideration of this decision. He said:
"We have also appealed to the Prime Minister to consider the team’s participation in the Asiad. And we are hopeful of getting the Government’s support."
While there is uncertainty prevailing around the team’s involvement in the Asian Games, exceptions for certain sports have been considered in the past which brings hope to the Indian football national team.
Indian Football fans vocal over the decision to exclude the national team from 2023 Asian Games
Following the news of the denial of participation, the Indian football fraternity voiced their dissent on social media The hashtag "#IndianfootballforAsianGames" trended shortly after the announcement, highlighting their concerns.
If successful, this could potentially provide a significant boost to Indian football aspirations.