Two senior India footballers training for the World Cup qualifier against the UAE don't have passports and there is a third whose travel document expired over a year ago. It is possible that all three may miss the away game on July 23.
Before that India travel to Male for a friendly against the Maldives on July 7, but Rocus Lamare, Gilbert Oliveira and Khelemba Singh will miss that warm-up match because they can't travel overseas now.
A senior team official told HT that while Lamare's passport had expired, Oliveira and Khelemba did not have one. The official, on condition of anonymity, said the All India Football Federation (AIFF) got to know the status of Lamare's passport “two or three days ago”.
“Rocus's passport reached us late and was probably lying around the Salgaocar office or the AIFF's Goa office. I saw that the expiry date was June 2010 and immediately notified the federation,” the official said.
The official added that it was unlikely Lamare will get a fresh passport in time for the first leg against the UAE in Dubai on July 23. “Maybe something will work out, possibly with the federation's help. But it doesn't seem likely.”
The AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das, could not be reached for a comment but it was learned that passports were usually “taken for granted” in the case of national and I-League players. It is unlikely the passports or the lack of it were checked when the day the camp began here on June 15.
This comes less than six months after the AIFF realised Sushil Singh would miss two of India's three Asian Cup group ties only days before the competition began. Sushil had trained with the squad for over an year and was said to be in good form but no one remembered that he also had to serve a two-match ban for being sent off against North Korea in the AFC Challenge Cup in 2010.
India coach Armando Colaco held the club responsible. “It's the club which should take responsibility. Now Salgaocar (to which all three players belong) will be playing in the AFC Cup, they should have realised and seen that the passports were in order,” said a visibly-annoyed Colaco.