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India coach Dennerby: AFC was not professional in maintaining bubble, our dream has been destroyed

India women’s football team coach Thomas Dennerby on Wednesday said that his side isn’t happy with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and somehow, the dreams of his side were destroyed.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday had affirmed that Covid-hit India withdrew from the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and their remaining Group A games stand cancelled. India couldn’t register a minimum of 13 players (including one goalkeeper) in the player selection list and start list for the match between Chinese Taipei and India on Sunday.

“I am extremely proud of my players and staff. AIFF has done a wonderful job, nothing more could be done and no one from the federation could have changed the situation. Honestly, we are not happy with the AFC tournament organization and the lack of solution-oriented dialogue. We think in one way, our dream was destroyed but we are not blaming the whole AFC organization,” said Dennerby during a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

He added, “We have strictly followed the AFC protocols. The girls stayed in their rooms all the time. All team meetings happened in the room. On the 16th we were tested for COVID-19 again, at that time first case in our camp was detected, which means, the first case of COVID happened when we came out of quarantine, how was it possible? Very strange, first feeling, it might have come from someone in the bubble.”

Further explaining the circumstance, the coach said: “On the 18th we were tested again, three more positive results detected in our camp. The positive cases were close to the hotel staff, co-incidence or not? What we did not know was that the hotel staff was tested on the 17th, the result was sent to AFC on the 18th and after that, the AFC did not send the report to the hotel until the 19th around 1:30 PM. When the results came, seven hotel staff members were infected with COVID.”

He added, “The staff was cleaning our rooms when we were inside, why did not AFC send the reports immediately? Why wait the whole day? Did they understand this was not good, no action was taken. AFC should have called the hotel directly and should have immediately asked them to leave the hotel. That was a really big mistake, that was an unprofessional way to handle the AFC bubble, no explanations can be good enough.”