Busan: Bhaichung Bhutia is not only the toast of the Indians, he is a big hit with the rest of the Asian Games fraternity too.
His was a name some south and south-east Asian countries were already familiar with, thanks to his three-year stint with Bury FC in England. The four goals he has scored out of India’s six in their first two matches have made everybody else sit up and take notice.
A Turkmenistan official, for instance, was so impressed that he wanted to ‘buy’ the Indian captain. How much is he getting in India now, how much he will take to come to our country, he inquired with India team manager Santo Mitra.
Even Singapore may renew its interest in Bhaichung after his dazzling display here. A couple of clubs had shown keen interest in the Indian striker last season when his contract with the English second division club got over. It didn’t work out, for financial reasons.
India coach Stephen Constantine is in awe of Bhaichung too. “I am not surprised that he is scoring so frequently now… He’s a fine striker and if he gets the ball in the right place, you can bet on him to put the ball into the net.”
There are other qualities Constantine likes of Bhaichung. “It’s a pleasure to work with him. He’s a great captain and has the qualities to motivate his teammates.”
The youngsters in the team vouch for his commitment and dedication. “He and our coach has changed the outlook of the team,” said Abhishek Yadav. “We don’t fear any opposition now and believe we can beat all teams.”
With the battle against China looming large, Constantine’s boys didn’t have any special celebrations on Monday night. On the contrary, it was back to work for them within 18 hours of the memorable triumph over Turkmenistan.
The players had a Sauna bath in the athletes’ village before Constantine took them to the swimming pool.
Dr Vece Paes’ arrival on Monday night helped the Indian soccer officials heave a sigh of relief. Though he’s the doctor of the tennis team, Dr Paes has agreed to help out the footballers too.
“The other doctors in our contingent have mostly come on a holiday and are rarely available, so we asked Dr Paes to help out,” said Santo Mitra.
The tennis ace’s father has already examined Rennedy Singh and helped him with his hamstring problem. “He is much better now and should be able to play the China match,” said Dr Paes.
That’s great news for the team. If only Indian soccer came across more good Samaritans like Dr Paes.