New Delhi: Baichung Bhutia is hurt at the scornful comments made by former national team manager Pradip Chowdhury but the Indian football captain doesn’t want to engage in a mud-slinging game.
However, in a show of solidarity, his teammates rallied behind the Sikkimese striker scotching reports that has appeared in some quarters about senior players not liking his way of functioning during India’s Asian Cup campaign.
“I don’t want to dignify someone’s (Chowdhury) unnecessary comments. If someone wants to question my commitment towards the national team and the game, I can only talk about my on-field achievements,” the Indian captain told
reporters on Saturday.
“If someone wants to question my integrity, just flip through the record books about my international record and the number of awards I have received,” an emotional Baichung said about the allegations that he along with national coach Bob Houghton indulged in politics within the team.
When asked about Chowdhury’s allegations that he stayed with the team at AIFF’s expense despite being injured, the skipper shot back, “That’s the tragic part. I have paid for the expense of my rehabilitation from my own pocket. I flew down to Chennai on my own.”
“Questioning our team spirit and unity is absolutely rubbish. We have great team unity and we hope people don’t try and break our team spirit as we are like one big family. We will always stick together and try to do our best as we have done in the Asian Cup,” the skipper stated.
Meanwhile, most of Baichung’s teammates came out in his support vehemently denying any rift in the team through Football Players Association of India (FPAI) website.
Goalkeeper Subrata Paul who has been the standout performer for India at the Asian Cup said, “the strongest point of our team is team unity. We have been together for about two years......and we are like a family. Baichung and coach Bob Houghton who has always shown faith in me have my full support,” Paul was quoted as saying by FPAI website.
Sunil Chhetri, who scored two goals in the tournament is annoyed at reports of politics and lack of unity in the team.
“It is annoying and upsetting that we are receiving comments about team spirit after our performance in the Asian Cup. We don’t deserve this treatment after giving our heart and soul for our country,” Chhetri said.
“There is 100 percent unity in our squad. The team is united under our captain and our coach. We will stand united irrespective of what people may say. All of us are looking forward to playing under him in the future as well,” senior player Renedy Singh stated.
Striker Abhishek Yadav seemed surprised by the news.
“The junior and senior players have gelled together a formed a great group. We have been together through the toughest of times in preparation for this tournament...we hope that Baichung and senior players can continue to lead the team,” commented Abhishek.
Mohun Bagan stopper Deepak Mondal who has played alongside Baichung over a decade termed him as an “outstanding captain and leader.”
Other players like Mahesh Gawli, Gourmangi Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence all spoke in unison about the unity in the team and rubbished the allegations made by the former manager.