Calcutta: A jersey fiasco saw East Bengal defender Uga Okpara missing the crucial AFC Cup match against Tampines Rovers and Edeh Chidi failing to start.
“There was a miscommunication. And it was dealt with in an amateurish way I must say. I could not give Chidi and Uga a start because their shirts came after the kick-off,” coach Trevor James Morgan fumed at the post-match media conference.
The problem started when East Bengal players found after arriving at the stadium that they would be wearing white shirt. Reason? The away jersey of Tampines Rovers was similar to East Bengal’s home jersey of red and gold.
“The club had told the players that they should carry all the three kits, red and gold, yellow and white, whenever they have an AFC Cup match. Only seven came with all the three kits while rest turned up with only our home jersey. Since most of the players stay in and around Salt Lake, they managed to get the white jersey before the match commissioner’s verification.
“Only Chidi and Uga’s jersey came late as they stay quite far-off. We cannot do anything if the players do not get their kits. Even in Vietnam, one player left his white kit in the hotel.
“Anyway let’s not spoil the mood. We are almost in the second round after a long time. Let’s celebrate that,” a senior club official said.
A senior player though had a different story to tell. “In away matches, we were told to take three kits but not in home matches. We should have been told about which jersey we will be wearing,” he said.
Morgan has reasons to be upset. The jersey fiasco could have left him in a situation where there would have been two Indian players upfront. Had Chidi’s jersey not come, then Morgan would have had no option but to bring in Baljit Sahni in place of an injured Barisic. “Luckily Chidi’s came minutes after the kick-off,” Morgan said.
Late in the evening Morgan had an informal meeeting with senior official Santosh Bhattacharya. Morgan, sources said, has promised to have a rethink on his plan to leave after this season.