City giants Mohun Bagan have failed to secure an AFC licence because Coach Sanjoy Sen does not have a pro-licence certificate and the Cooperage Stadium is not at par with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) requirements, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said on Wednesday.
Barring Bengaluru FC, who finished runners-up in the AFC Cup losing only by a solitary goal to Iraq’s Air Force Club in Doha last week, none of the I-League clubs could fulfill all mandatory Grade A criteria of the Indian club licensing regulations 2016-17.
“A few failed on the infrastructure and stadium counts while some did not have pro licence coaches like Mohun Bagan. Not only that, Mohun Bagan showed Cooperage Stadium as the venue for AFC Cup matches, which was not sufficient. Mumbai FC also failed on that count,” Dhar told IANS over phone.
Bagan’s arch rivals East Bengal — who have a national licence — also had no option but to show Cooperage as their home ground for their AFC Cup matches as both the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata and Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati are undergoing renovation for next year’s U-17 World Cup.
Kalyani and Barasat stadiums fail to fulfill the AFC’s strict ground criteria. But as it stands now, even Cooperage, which has been refurbished recently, also is not good enough for AFC.
“They won’t be having any problem in playing the AFC Cup matches. But if they win the I-League and qualify for the AFC Champions League, they will need a pro licence coach,” Dhar added.
Teams like Mumbai FC and Shillong Lajong have pro licensed coaches in Santosh Kashyap and Thangboi Singto respectively, but have failed to either show stadiums matching the AFC requirements or have not ticked in the infrastructure box.
Besides these clubs, Sporting Clube de Goa and DSK Shivajians, Pune, were also given national licences.