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AFC Women's Asian Cup | 'So Disappointed for You': Australian Superstar Sam Kerr Sends Message for India

Sam Kerr is Australia's all-time top goalscorer. (AFC Photo)

Sam Kerr is Australia's all-time top goalscorer. (AFC Photo)

AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022's top scorer Sam Kerr said she was disappointed for India as they were withdrawn from the tournament, following their inability to field a team due to Covid outbreak.

Australian superstar and top scorer in the ongoing AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 sent a heartfelt message for the Indian women’s football team after their unfortunate exit from the tournament due to a massive Covid-19 outbreak. Head coach Thomas Dennerby said that at present 19 players and 6 staff members are infected with Covid-19 and are in quarantine.

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, India did not have a minimum requirement of 13 players available and hence, were responsible for the match against Chinese Taipei not taking place. According to AFC’s Special Competition Rules, they were withdrawn from the tournament.

Now, Australian Sam Kerr has sent a message for the Indian team and said she was “disappointed" for how things unfolded for them. She said she hopes to play India in the future.

“Hi girls, this is Sam Kerr from the Australian national team. Just wanted to send you guys a message and say how sorry I am for the situation you guys are in right now. I am so disappointed for you guys, I know you had been working so hard for this tournament. Use this as fuel, come back stronger.

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“I was looking forward to hopefully playing you guys but it wasn’t to be, hopefully in the future we’ll meet. Good luck in your future endeavours and hopefully one day we’ll see you back in this tournament," she said in a video posted by All India Football Federation (AIFF)’s social media handle.

On Wednesday, India’s head coach Thomas Dennerby blamed the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the debacle and said they didn’t manage the bio bubble well.

Dennerby revealed that the hotel staff was tested on January 17 and in their results, which came back on January 18, seven staff members tested positive. He, however, said that AFC did not share the report till January 19, leaving the team possible to infection.

“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.

He said he was hurt by AFC’s lack of intent to finding solutions. “Telling them the news was the most painful part. You want it to be decided on the pitch. We didn’t even get a chance, it was not even a discussion. Could we bring some players in, U-17 were in another bubble? The federation tried everything," he said.

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first published:January 26, 2022, 14:20 IST