team's SA tour is off
prospects of the Indian football team meeting Pakistan on a
neutral venue fizzled out when the four-nation tournament at South
Africa, involving India, Pakistan, Namibia and the hosts, was
abruptly cancelled on Thursday.
All India Football Federation
(AIFF) secretary Alberto Colaco said that, in a fax message sent
to the federation's Margao office, the organisers of the
tournament, Sapphire Enterprise, confirmed the cancellation of the
"The fax says the tour has
been called off because of the inability of the South African
federation to raise a team to play in the tournament," Colaco
said. The message also explained that since the newly appointed
coach of South Africa has named 30 probables for the World Cup
finals, it has become virtually impossible for the federation to
field the proposed second string line-up for the four-nation
The cancellation of the tour is
yet another setback for the exposure starved Indian team, who have
not played a match since the tour of England last summer. It was
slated to participate in the SAF Games (Pakistan) and SAFF
tournament (Dhaka), and Afro Asian Games but all the meets were
cancelled for different reasons.
When asked whether the AIFF would
demand compensation from the London-based Sapphire for the
cancellation of the tour, Colaco said, "such things have to
be discussed in the AIFF meeting before reaching any
While the AIFF secretary refused
to be drawn into any speculations beyond giving the official
reasons behind calling off the tour, sources felt there could be
more to the issue than just what the organisers are saying.
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn had
carried a news almost a month ago that talked about the
cancellation of the tour. The report quoted Pakistan football
officials saying the Indian Government had refused permission to
its national team to play the neighbours.
The AIFF had then scotched the
rumours saying it was yet to go to the Government to seek
permission for the tour.