New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS): All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel described India's inability to put up the minimum required players for the AFC Women's Asian Cup Group A match against Chinese Taipei in Navi Mumbai due to Covid-19 cases and injuries as the unfortunate situation and sought support for the players.
"We are as disappointed as probably the entire nation would be right now with this unwarranted situation. However, the players' health and well-being are of paramount importance to us, and it cannot be compromised under any circumstances. I wish all the infected players and team officials a swift and full recovery. They will be well supported by the AIFF and AFC," he said in a statement on Sunday.
Patel said the team is heartbroken and said that despite taking all precautions, so many players and support staff were stricken by Covid-19.
"The team is heartbroken, and I request all to respect their feelings and sentiments," he said.
"I am proud of the great promise the team showed in their first match, and am confident that they will prove their mettle in the near future," Patel, also a FIFA council member, stated.
"This is not the end of the world. The promise on display in the first match against IR Iran was there for all to see and I am confident they will bounce back from this temporary setback," he added.
"Unfortunately, this happened to us despite the best measures put in place, and it is sheer bad luck that it happened to us. Let there be no fingers pointed at any. We need to understand this is a pandemic situation, and no bubble is foolproof around the world," the AIFF chief said.
Patel said the AIFF will continue to support the Blue Tigresses and was sure that the players will come back stronger.
"Our support for the Blue Tigresses will continue, and we will work to ensure that our players come back stronger. The AIFF also thanks the fans and is grateful for their continuous support in the joint endeavour to take Indian Football Forward Together," the AIFF President averred.
The AFC said as of now the tournament will go ahead as per schedule with the final scheduled on February 6.