The Indian football team's friendly against Lebanon, which was scheduled to be played in Mumbai on June 7, has been cancelled after the West Asian nation pulled out, citing problems in the procurement of visas for its players.
The Lebanon match was intended to serve as a build-up for India's crucial Asian Cup Qualifiers game against Kyrgyzstan on June 13 in Bengaluru.
"The Lebanese Football Association has expressed their regret at not being able to travel to India to play the international friendly against the Indian national team on June 7. Lebanon had earlier in March confirmed their willingness to play the match in Mumbai. The AIFF is currently looking for a replacement," the All India Football Federation (AIFF) said in a statement.
In a letter to the AIFF, Jihad Al Chohof, general secretary of Lebanese FA, wrote: "We regret to inform you that we will no longer be able to play the friendly match...it is not possible to apply for entry visas for the majority of national team at Indian Embassy in Beirut, as they are playing abroad with their respective clubs ... it is not possible for them to come to Lebanon to apply for their visas."
As per rules of the Government of India, Lebanese citizens cannot get visas on arrival in India.
Expressing his disappointment at the development, national team coach Stephen Constantine said: "The decision of the Lebanon FA, that too at the eleventh hour comes as a jolt for our preparations for the crucial AFC Asian Cup qualifier against the Kyrgyz Republic."
"Even as we are trying to find a replacement team, I understand that it is very difficult as all other teams have already finalised their matches."
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