New Delhi: Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia and his one-time national coach Syed Nayeemuddin Thursday sought to underplay their irrevocable differences.
Nayeemuddin said his remark was misunderstood and that he never intended to call Bhutia a `traitor,` while the striker, who announced his retirement from international football Wednesday, said he had no hard feelings against his former coach.
"I have no hard feelings against Nayeem Sir. It could be a genuine misunderstanding," Bhutia said.
Nayeemuddin said he was misunderstood.
"How can I call him a traitor, someone I have always compared with Japan`s Hidetoshi Nakata and Italy`s Roberto Baggio. He was a naughty boy. I feel if only he had been a bit more disciplined he could have prolonged his career for a couple of years more. I never intended to call him a traitor, it was a misunderstanding," Nayeemuddin said.
On Wednesday, Nayeemuddin alleged that the star player didn`t pull his weight during the national team`s losses in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in 2006 when he was the coach.
Bhutia and Nayeemuddin, also a former captain, had a troubled relationship and it turned ugly when the latter was the coach of the national team in 2005-06 and they made no secret of their dislike for each other.
India suffered heavy losses against Japan and lowly-ranked Yemen in the Asian Cup qualifiers and that led to the sacking of Nayeemuddin.
Nayeemuddin has maintained that machination by Bhutia and some players resulted in the team`s heavy defeats and consequently to his sacking.