The All India Football Federation is facing the danger of having to send the senior national team into the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in March without a proper training camp. And the Challenge Cup is important for India then winning either the 2012 or 2014 editions of the AFC Challenge Cup would mean qualification for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.
The I-League takes a break from March 13 to April 2 to accommodate the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers scheduled between March 20 to 31, but I-League champions Dempo SC and Federation Cup winners East Bengal Club would be busy with continental engagements on March 15/16.
This would mean that chief coach Bob Houghton might have a week with most players, while much less with players from Dempo and East Bengal going into the qualifiers. There India are set to face a strong Turkmenistan, neighbours Pakistan and the winner from the tie Chinese Taipei and Laos.
Where this qualification group will be held has also not been decided. When the draw for the qualifiers were made India had shown interest to host the qualifiers to increase the chances of our team to qualify for the tournament proper.
It will be interesting to see if any changes to the I-League fixtures will be made to give Bob Houghton a little bit more time to prepare the team, then Bob could call on a younger squad to play the Challenge Cup qualifiers then the squad which went to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup last month.