The troubles for Mumbai City FC seem to be never-ending in the inaugural season of the Indian Super League (ISL). After a spate of injuries in the squad, the franchise was banking on star player Nicolas Anelka to return from his ban and provide the edge.
However, it appears the Frenchman's availability is still in doubt as the team awaits the green signal from the All India Football Federation (AIFF), despite the player completing his prescribed three-match ban.
It is reliably learnt that Mumbai City FC has submitted the necessary documents to the governing body. However, the team is yet to receive a written permission to allow Anelka's participation in the league.
Mumbai though did not wish to comment on the matter. "We would not want to comment on this subject. We will issue a statement once everything is practicable," Indranil Blah, manager of Mumbai, told HT.
Anelka has been in the dock after being handed a five-match ban for making a racial gesture last season while playing in England for West Bromwich Albion. The ban was then commuted to three matches after the 35-year-old made the transfer to the ISL.
Anelka has had to sit out for the first three games for Mumbai due to the turn of events. According to the rules of the ban, Mumbai are entitled to field the star striker. However, his availability is still unclear before the scheduled game against Chennayin FC on Tuesday.
Mumbai have had a tumultuous season so far, hampered by injuries. The latest was the injury to marquee player Freddie Ljungberg, who pulled his hamstring during the game against NorthEast United FC. Earlier, captain Syed Nabi had also been ruled out for three weeks due to an ankle injury.
Coach Peter Reid had been banking on former EPL star Anelka's presence to resurrect Mumbai's flagging campaign after two defeats in three games. "It seems like this ban has been going on for eternity. I am happy that we will be finally in a position to field Anelka from the next game," Reid had said after the last game.