Nayeem makes U-turn on Baichung

Last Updated: Aug 25, 2011, 17:43 PM IST

New Delhi: A day after accusing just-retired
Bhaichung Bhutia of match-rigging in 2006, former coach Syed
Nayeemuddin today made a U-turn and said that he had committed
a mistake by making the allegations on the Indian football
captain.

Hours after Bhaichung announced his international
retirement here yesterday, Dronacharya awardee coach
Nayeemuddin accused him of rigging India`s Asian Cup
qualifiers match against Yemen in 2006 to discredit him.

"It was a misunderstanding between me and Bhaichung and I
had no personal enmity with him. I had committed a mistake. I
am willing to speak to Bhaichung and may be say sorry
to him," Nayeemuddin said.

The Dronacharya awardee coach said that he had wrongly
thought that Bhaichung led a plot with other players to rig
the match.

"It was a mistake on my part to have thought that
Bhaichung had a meeting with other players to do something
against me during Asian Cup Qualifiers. I have come to know
that it was a meeting to discuss formation of Football Players
Association of India (of which Bhaichung is now president). I
have been wrongly told by some people," said the former coach
who was sacked after a string of poor performances by India in
early 2006.

Bhaichung, on his part, played down the controversy,
saying that he would accept Nayeemuddin`s clarification and
consider it a close chapter.

"I am happy that Nayeemuddin has accepted that he has
done some mistake and misunderstood me. Anybody can commit
mistake and have misunderstanding with somebody. So I am OK
with it. I have no personal enmity with him," said the former
striker who had been the poster boy of Indian football for the
major part of the last two decades.

Bhaichung said he had decided not to react to
Nayeemuddin`s comments as he did not want to blow it up into
another controversy.

"My phone has been ringing since yesterday with people
and journalists asking for my reaction on Nayeemuddin`s
allegations. I said I am not going to react to it. I don`t
want to make it a big thing that Bhaichung has also reacted
and all. I did not want it," said Bhaichung who retired
yesterday after an illustrious 16-year career since 1995 after
battling a recurring calf muscle injury.

"I want to forget the whole episode now. I have no bitter
feelings but I want to forget it once for all," said Bhaichung
who had played 107 international matches and scored 42 goals
before his retirement.

Nayeemuddin praised Bhaichung as one of the best talents
India has ever produced and who could have been among the best
in Asia.

"He was one of the best talents India has ever
produced. I had wanted him to be the best striker not in India
but in Asia. So I wanted him to play in Japanese league to
sharpen his skills," said Nayeemuddin.

Asked about his famed `military style` training methods
which allegedly was the cause of friction with Bhaichung and
some other players also when he was the India coach,
Nayeemuddin said, "Bhaichung has right to disagree with my
style of training. But I felt it was the way to go at that
time and even now also."

PTI