Colombo FC were dealt a major blow ahead of their AFC Cup qualifier second leg clash against Mohun Bagan when their foreign recruits were denied a visa.
The Colombo FC squad reached Kolkata on Sunday without their foreign recruit and it will be a Herculean task for them to overturn the 2-1 deficit against the Kolkata side without key players. Afees Olayemi, Momas Yapo and Nasiru Opayemi have not been allowed to travel to India giving an unfair advantage to Bagan ahead of the vital match.
The three foreigners were superb in the Sri Lankan side’s 1-2 defeat to their much-fancied opponents as they held together three pivotal departments for their side. While Yapo controlled the pace of the game with his midfield magic, Opayemi did the job of guarding opposition attacks at the heart of defense.
Olayemi was also superb, constantly creating dangers for Bagan defense and also scoring a goal in the process. However, it is very likely that the services of all three players will be missed in the decisive second leg.
“We got to know about this the day before we were scheduled to leave,” owner of Colombo FC Saif Yusoof said about the visa proceedings. “I believe the High Commission has laws denying entry to Africans, especially Nigerians, from Sri Lanka,” he added.
The Sri Lankan side has lost hope on two Nigerians Olayemi and Opayemi but are trying their best to get the travelling documents for Yapo, who is an Ivory Cost citizen. However, the absence of any of the three recruits will pose a problem for the side. However, their coach was brave with his comments ahead of leaving for Kolkata.
“It has been really hard as I have been forced to put together a new plan,” Head Coach Mohamed Roomy said, “The three players play a vital role in defense, midfield and attack. Now I will have to replace them in a short period of time. However I have players who have played in those roles and will fit in nicely,” he added.
It will be interesting to see how well the three new players are able to cope up with the current lot of players and whether the team could outplay Bagan despite the difficulties they are facing when they take the field on Tuesday.
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