After confirming his availability and registering himself for the JK Santosh trophy squad, well-known face of JK football, Ishfaq Ahmad has left the team midway by joining the I-League club Mumbai FC.
JK kicked off its final round campaign in Santosh Trophy without Ishfaq Ahmad as the star player left team midway. Ishfaq Ahmad upon reaching Mumbai went to Mumbai FC office and on the next day joined the training session of the I-League side.
In its first match and not having any quality replacement in place of Ishfaq at its disposal, JK lost match by 1-3 to Maharashtra.
The news about Ishfaq was made public by the Mumbai FC through its statement in various dailies and web portals. The news took JK team management by a surprise and they chose not to comment when contacted on first instance. However, later they confirmed that JK would be without it's star player in the biggest state level football tournament of the country.
"It is real setback not only for us but for the whole State. He (Ishfaq) confirmed that he had signed a contract with Mumbai FC and he cannot play in Santosh Trophy," said team Manager Bashir Ahmad Malik.
Team Coach Hilal Rasool Parray said: "I don't believe in individual brilliance and had never thought that he will win us matches single handedly. His absence will upset the balance of the team. He (Ishfaq) should have told us about this early. His early decision would have allowed us to bring in his replacement as this time of the event we are one player short," he said.
Ishfaq who is registered player with Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters was not regular in the ISL event this season and that affected his chances of signing an early contract in I-League. With Mumbai FC struggling in the I-League and list of injuries rising, they were in need of strengthening their squad. The Mumbai FC gave Ishfaq a chance to resurrect is faltering career. He kept whole JK team management and the Association in dark as only a week ago he had confirmed his availability in the Santosh Trophy squad. After his confirmation, JK reregistered him in the list of 20 players in the Santosh trophy event with AIFF.
J&K Football Association (JKFA) termed Ishfaq's last minute withdrawal as shock for the entire football fraternity of Kashmir. "The whole balance of the side will be affected by Ishfaq's act and we will be short of a player in the event if AIFF doesn't allow us replacement," said JKFA spokesperson.
"Initially we were reluctant to include Ishfaq in the final squad. However he assured the team management and JKFA that he will play for the state in the event. On his assurance we dropped a youngster and included him in the squads he carries the star power and experience along with him. However he gave JK side a big jolt before the tournament could commence," he said.