The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bagan clears Akuneto case

Calcutta, Sept. 27: Mohun Bagan’s dealings with some foreign players seems to be getting curioser and curioser. Chukwuma Akuneto has been shouting hoarse about non-payment of dues, and was Saturday denied permission to practise with the team.

The Nigerian used this to his advantage, shooting off letters to the AIFF (copy to the Fifa’s Player Status Committee) and by last afternoon he had got his dues for the month from assistant secretary Balaram Chowdhury.

The defender was secured by Mohun Bagan on a three-month contract from July 18 and was paid an initial Rs 1,00,000 (agreed on a salary of Rs 70,000 per month). Later, his services were deemed unnecessary, but the player was sitting with a three-month valid contract in his pocket. Bagan tried to avoid this ticklish payment issue, but Akuneto, an informed and intelligent person, if not the best of players imported to the club, was hell-bent “on getting my dues”.

He met the press, presented his case, and presented his case to the AIFF and the Fifa. Going through troubled times as it is, the current club authorities decided to keep this bit of flak down. “Balaram Chowdhury called me to his office this afternoon and handed me the “balance of dues for the month (Rs 40,000),” said Akuneto. In return the player has written a letter of apology to Chowdhury and said he has also written to the AIFF and Fifa about this payment.

It does not absolve the club of payment for the third month (another Rs 70,000), though. “I will be around till the contract lasts,” said Akuneto. So is he now eligible for selection for the club’s beleaguered defence line-up for Sunday’s derby match versus East Bengal' “No,” said he, “because I did not (could not) attend practice this morning.”

He also said that his visa problem has been solved. It was one problem harassing both the club and the player. “Balaram Chowdhury saw to it that my visa is extended by six months, and asked me to take a holiday. So I plan to go to Chennai to look up a few friends.”

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