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Gokulam Kerala FC request AIFF to release women's national team players for AFC campaign

GOKULAM KERALA FC HAVE asked the All India Football Federation to release players from the Indian Women's National Team camp for their upcoming campaign in the AFC Women's Club Championship.

GKFC, who won the Indian Women's League 2019-20, are the going to become the first Indian club ever to compete in a women's continental championship when they participate in the second edition of AWCC to be held in Amman, Jordan from 7th to 12th November.

If the Malabarians manage to win a match in this tournament it will be the first time an Indian football club has won a match in an AFC top tier championship's main stages since 1999.

Photo Courtesy - Gokulam Kerala FC

The club is about to begin its preparatory camp for this  historic campaign in Kozhikode where according to reports as many as 9 national squad players are expected to join next month.

But confusion started when Shilarze Saha Roy, a prominent journalist, tweeted this morning that Gokulam Kerala FC would not be able to field players selected for national team camp in AWCC, since it would clash with the Indian Women's National Team's preparatory camp for the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022 which begins on January 20th.

This raised many eyebrows from the Indian football fraternity because Gokulam Kerala FC's AWCC campaign is not only seen as a big step forward for women's club football in India but also provides the players an opportunity for international exposure that they have seldom had in their career.

When TFG reached out to GKFC President Mr VC Praveen, he said the club was in communication with the AIFF regarding this matter,

"We have requested and we are waiting. The AIFF Secretary [Mr Kushal Das] has said both [GKFC's AWCC campaign and national team camp] are important and a good decision will be taken."

He added that the club remains hopeful that the issue will be resolved.

Gokulam Kerala FC have had a fruitful relationship with AIFF when it comes to resolving complications. When Gokulam Kerala FC were invited to participate in the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup in Bangladesh (An AFC-recognized tier two international club tournament), the AIFF top brass, especially I-League CEO Sunando Dhar, had helped them make the necessary arrangements on a very short notice.

The situation however stands in contrast with the men's club squads that have participated in AFC Cup and AFC Champions League. Even in the recently held men's national team camp ahead of their friendlies against Nepal, players whose clubs were playing in the AFC Cup were allowed to join late, without the clubs needing to formally request an exemption.

Incidentally, the AIFF's MA ranking within AFC is judged by how men's clubs perform in AFC Cup and AFC Champions League. But women's football is not taken into account by AFC in this regard, so Gokulam Kerala FC will not have a chance to boost India's MA rank with their performance in AFC Women's Club Championship.

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