Lajong hits out at `Big Two`

Shillong: Shillong`s Lajong F C has hit out
strongly at `poaching` of players by top soccer clubs saying
these teams should follow the Dempo model of investing in
players rather than buying big names with huge offers.

The `Big Two` of Kolkata maidan, Mohun Bagan and East
Bengal have been setting a "bad precedent" by signing players
before the end of the season, Lajong FC general secretary
Larsing Ming Sawyan told PTI in an interview saying he would
take up the issue with the AIFF.

Reacting to speculation that Mohun Bagan have approached
their star defender Daniel Bidemi, Sawyan said: "I want to
make it loud and clear that if we are to release any player,
it will be at a cost. They should approach the club and talk
to the management.”

However, both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal brushed aside
the allegation.

Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra refuted the
charge saying, "we are not picking any player from Lajong."

East Bengal`s Kalyan Majumdar shot back and said: "I can
level the same charge against them, can they prove it ? The
AIFF is very strict about it, they have the authority."

"If they approach our players, it`s just a waste of time.
They are not investing in players and are just hunting for
good players. We have a long term investment in them, we
nurture them, give them training."

"These teams are looking for players for specific
positions by offering big money as if they are fixing a
jig-saw puzzle. This is not the right concept. Dempo has been
retaining most of their players for more than four seasons.
They should behave professionally."

"I will take up this issue with the AIFF at the right
time," a miffed Sawyan said.

He further commented that the stature of East Bengal
and Mohun Bagan had eroded because of this tendency of late.

"East Bengal and Mohun Bagan were two clubs that would
inspire players. In my young days, I would love to watch East
Bengal and Mohun Bagan; today, I watch Dempo."

"This, really, is a disturbing trend. This questions
the integrity of the I-League as it has been a proven practice
worldwide that no transfer is allowed before the end of a
season. How it influences the performance of the players for
their club in the remaining matches?" he asked.

There have been talks that Mohun Bagan have struck a
deal with Muritala and have approached Bidemi and Uttam Singh;
similarly, East Bengal are reportedly signing Orji Penn of
JCT, even as I-League is yet to be completed.

There is also a speculation that Mohun Bagan are likely
to get the services of Lajong coach Stanley Rozario.

"He has a year`s contract with us and the season is still
not over. It`s not the right time to talk about it. But yes,
after the season the management would decide after sitting
with him," he said.

"As of now, our focus is on our last round match against
Salgaocar in Goa on May 28," he added.

The I-League qualifiers are currently in danger of
relegation lying at the third spot (26 points) from the bottom
with one match remaining this season.

Sawyan said it would be an achievement of sorts if they
remained in the I-League despite their lack of experience.

"Looking back, if we remain in I-League with no previous
experience, I guess it will be a perfect season. We have
beaten the top five clubs including Dempo (in Federation Cup),
Churchill, Mahindra United and Mohun Bagan," he said.

Another qualifier, Pune FC are now vying for top three
spots but Sawyan said they had an experienced line-up.

"Pune FC have been exeptional, a role model club and
everyone should look up to them. The basic difference is the
team composition.”

"Yes, they were new entrants but it`s a case of old wine
in a new bottle. But we were a team of new wine, in a new
bottle. They have players like Venkatesh, who is quite
experienced. They have been the most consistent side this
season with a professional managament set-up.

"We are a club that has been set up with a three-year
vision of becoming the the top 5 clubs by 2012. We have long
term contracts with the players as we are investing in them,"
he signed off.



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