In the midst of the Asian Games 2023 controversies, a new twist in the Indian football saga has emerged. Lalengmawia Ralte, affectionately known as Apuia, has been at the center of reports suggesting he was banished from the Indian football team by head coach Igor Stimac. However, Apuia himself has now come forward to deny these allegations, claiming they are nothing more than fabrications.
Here’s a breakdown of the unfolding drama: Apuia Sets the Record Straight
Apuia, the talented midfielder from Mumbai City FC, had been conspicuously absent from the Indian national team for the past three international tournaments. His last appearance dates back to the Intercontinental Cup match against Mongolia in early June.
Reports initially suggested that Apuia’s exclusion was due to off-field problems, souring his relationship with head coach Igor Stimac. The Times of India reported that he failed to complete a form issued by the team psychologist before the deadline. This omission cost him a spot in the 2023 Asian Games squad and the under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Apuia, however, refuted these allegations in a statement to Vanglaini Daily, stating, “What we’ve seen in the media is wrong. I can’t leave my club because we have an AFC Champions League match ahead.” He maintains that he did not leave the team willingly.
Stimac responded to the situation by asserting that the decision was Apuia’s alone. He emphasized the importance of commitment, saying, “It’s up to him only, we are a family, and everyone needs to commit to it.”
With Apuia’s status in question and the controversy continuing, the Indian men’s national team’s squad for the 2023 Asian Games remains uncertain. Two separate squads were initially named, further adding to the chaos.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced a 17-man squad led by Sunil Chhetri, which notably omitted Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. However, the Sports Ministry unveiled another squad featuring senior players, including Jhingan and Gurpreet, creating confusion just days before the Asian Games.
As the Asian Games 2023 approach, the situation remains fluid, leaving fans and pundits alike speculating about Apuia’s future with the Indian football team. Despite the upheaval, the team continues to prepare for the tournament, with Igor Stimac at the helm.
Stay tuned for further developments as the Indian football saga unfolds, and the nation’s football fans eagerly await Apuia’s potential return to the squad.