India's coach slams AFC, says 'not happy with organisation or dialogue'

Thomas Dennerby. AFC

India head coach Thomas Dennerby slammed the Asian Football Confederation for mishandling the bio bubble after the hosts exit from the AFC Women's Asian Cup on Sunday due to a major COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking to the press, Dennerby said that the AFC were non-cooperative after arrangements at the team hotel were compromised.

"Honestly, we are not happy with the AFC tournament organsiation or the lack of solutions or active dialogue. We think that in one way destroyed our dreams. But we are not blaming the whole AFC organisation," Dennerby said.

"From my side, the biggest problem is that the AFC were not at all interested in having a discussion, how to handle this embarrassing situation. No emotion for the players, no understanding about human beings."

The coach also revealed that the seven hotel staff were tested positive on January 17 and the results were out the next day but AFC didn't inform the hotel about it till January 19. All the staff members who tested positive were involved with the team.

"Did they understand this was not good? Probably, but not action at this time. AFC should have called the hotel directly, and asked the [positive cases] to immediately leave the hotel and have no contact with the players whatsoever. But they did not. This was a big mistake.

"Why were they not tested every third day as a team? No test for the hotel staff done between the 11th and 17th, what we know anyway. I think that was an unprofessional way to handle it in an AFC bubble, a championship, a WC qualification," he said.

According to Dennerby, the team management informed AFC on the morning of January 23 that they can't field the team due to positive cases and injuries to two players. But AFC waited till the actual kickoff time -- 7:30 PM IST to cancel the match.

"Why wasn't the match against Chinese Taipei cancelled earlier? What was AFC waiting for? If AFC already sent us out of this tournament, why do it this painful way? No respect, no compassion, no empathy.

"Did AFC want to look like fools? Bringing two players in wheelchairs with plastic casts to the match? Is that showing the team respect?" Dennerby asked.

India were removed from the tournament after they failed to field the minimum requirement of 13 players in Sunday's match against Chinese Taipei. There were 12 positive cases while two players were injured and in casts.

After the cancellation of the game against Chinese Taipei, AFC announced that as per the rules, India would have to withdraw and their matches will be considered null and void.