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Bhaichung to be player-cum-coach

Bhaichung Bhutia

Calcutta: Bhaichung Bhutia is the player-cum-coach of the United Sikkim Football Club (USFC). The appointment is on a temporary basis, till he gets the right man for the job.

In the wake of the 10-goal hammering against Prayag United Sports Club, the principal owner of the club has decided to remove Philippe De Ridder from the coach’s post and made him the football director.

“Sometimes the situation is such that you have no other option but to adjust. I had never thought I would own a team.

“Such is life. You never know what surprises are there in store for you,” Bhutia said on the sidelines of his team’s training session on Tuesday, here, at the East Bengal ground.

Citing the instance of Steve Redmond, who was a player-cum-assistant manager for Bury FC, back in 1999-2000 during Bhutia’s stint there, the USFC owner admitted that coaching would still be a new experience altogether.

“Yes, it’s a new role as far as I’m concerned as I had to take it up when the side is going through a difficult phase. I’m sure we’ll get the right person for the right post at some point of time.

“However, in Europe, there are several cases of a player playing the role of a coach. I too witnessed it during my tryst with Bury FC,” he said.

Queried on the essential ‘A’ licence for coaches, Bhutia commented: “This is one aspect we need to fulfil.

“I too would like to get it done. But at the same time, there are other teams as well that are yet to fulfil other criterion… So in that case, I don’t think this (‘A’ licence) would be an issue at the moment.

“Nonetheless, I wanted to take up this challenge (of coaching) since its my club at the end of the day. Others too had wanted me to do so.”

Talking about the humiliating defeat against United SC, Bhutia urges his players to come up with a professional attitude instead of brooding over the past.

“A 10-1 loss is always a bad one. But being professional footballers, players have to back themselves up and be determined for a revival,” he said.

“A 10-1 loss is always a bad one. There are two sides to it — either it destroys a team, or it leads to the revival of the entire unit.

“It is like losing someone very close. But the test lies in how quickly you can get over such sorrows and be back to normal.

“Therefore, being professional footballers, players have to back themselves up and be determined for a comeback,” he explained.

Bhutia, however, refused to agree that lack of quality was one aspect that was plaguing his team in their I-League debut. The team has so far four points from five matches — one win, one draw and losing three.

“I don’t believe lack of quality as a reason behind our poor showing as of now. According to me, there are quite a few promising players in our side.

“May be we need one or two more good players in the squad… But except for that, I do have my trust on the current bunch,” he retorted.

About his availability in the playing XI, Bhutia said: “I’m not yet match fit.

“I will take the field only when I am fully fit. But what matters most is whether the team needs me (to play) or not.”

After practising at the East Bengal ground for two days, the squad will fly to Goa on Thursday to play their I-League Round VI match against Sporting Clube-de-Goa on Sunday.

Meanwhile, assistant coach Syed Altaf Fudden Ahmed has also been discharged of his duties.