India has appointed a new national team manager just days ahead of the Asian Cup football tournament after Pradip Choudhury walked out, reportedly because of differences with coach Bob Houghton.
Raul Carmo Fernandes was named as the replacement for Choudhury, a former national team captain who decided to return to India from Dubai, where the team is preparing for next month's tournament in Doha.
The development comes at a time when officials are hoping to give a boost to football's image in the country after bagging a 15-year $150 million commercial deal.
Choudhury was widely popular with the players and his departure was seen as a blow to the team, which has already been hit by a spate of injuries, including to captain Bhaichung Bhutia and fellow striker Sunil Chhetri.
The team put out a statement saying it believed that "he (Choudhury) could have set aside personal differences with the coach to keep the spirit up."
"The players have also mutually agreed not to have Pradip Chowdhury back in the camp as this has caused a lot of discomfort in the team, apart from being a cause of distraction and demotivation," the statement said.
"Internal incidents are being leaked out of the federation and this is very unfortunate. The main reason for training away from India was to stay away from demotivating press reports but this has really caused a lot of disturbance."
India will play Australia, South Korea and Bahrain in Group C of the Asian Cup tournament, which is held between Jan 7-29.