MALE – Afghanistan have branded the Maldives as poor hosts of the AFC Challenge Cup, complaining of transport problems including having to travel by boat from their luxury resort to venues.
Afghan coach Mohammad Kargar, some of whose players were also injured in a traffic accident on one of the islands, said the Maldives was a good holiday destination but a terrible place for a football tournament.
Speaking before Tuesday’s semi-final showdown between Afghanistan and Palestine, Kargar urged the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) not to choose the Maldives for any future competitions.
“Our players are not used to traveling by sea,” Kargar told reporters on Monday in the capital of the Maldives, a honeymoon destination made up of 1,192 coral islands scattered across the Equator.
“It is difficult for the players to go to matches by sea travel. And this is not a difficulty faced only by our players.”
“So I urge AFC not to give a country with such a situation a chance to host such a tournament again. Maldives is a good country for a vacation, but not a good place to (host) such a big tournament.”
(RELATED: Azkals set for ‘difficult game’ against Maldives in Challenge Cup semis)
Kargar suffered minor injuries on Saturday when the team bus slammed into another vehicle after a motorcyclist crashed into their convoy in the southern city of Addu.
He said at least three players who were injured in the crash may not be able to play in the semifinal, without naming them.
Afghanistan won their first football trophy last September by clinching the South Asian Football Federation title, a rare moment of joy for the war-racked country.
Maldives and the Philippines play Tuesday in the other semi-final at the Male national stadium, with the eventual winner of the Asian competition heading to the 2015 Asian Cup.
There was no immediate comment from the Football Association of Maldives or the AFC to the broadside from Kargar.
Maldivian fans have also complained about a lack of tickets for Tuesday’s matches, accusing local officials of selling them on the black market. – Rappler.com
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