Mohun Bagan will play top Chinese club Shandong Luneng FC on February 2 in the second round away qualifying match in Jinan © Getty Images (Representational Image)
Mohun Bagan will play top Chinese club Shandong Luneng FC on February 2 in the second round away qualifying match in Jinan © Getty Images (Representational Image)

Kolkata: After becoming the first Indian football club to win a AFC Champions League qualifying game, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen today lashed out at the bigwigs of All India Football Federation (AIFF) stating that future of the sport is bleak as it is hands of “wrong set of people”. Mohun Bagan will play top Chinese club Shandong Luneng FC on February 2 in the second round away qualifying match in Jinan but will have to play DSK Shivajians in away match of I-League on January 30. Bagan leaves for Pune on Thursday. However to the best of the knowledge, AFC as well as I-League schedule was drawn months back, which would have given club officials enough time to prepare.

“It’s really surprising that we’ve to go to Pune… This is the way Indian football is run in India. It does not happen anywhere in the world. Have you seen Barcelona to play in the La Liga days after their Champions League match? They [AIFF] could have altered the schedule but I’ve nothing to say. If I say something we might be subject to fine and suspension,” Sen was critical of parent body, which could earn him sanction.

Terming it a big blow for them, he said:”Future of Indian football is dark if it is in their (AIFF officials) hands. It’s very unfortunate for a team who are ambitious here. I’m very frustrated. AIFF is not listening, you go and ask them. They said I-League will go as per scheduled. This is the way football is run by the federation. We’re helpless. They could have easily postponed with only eight teams in the League this time. If something goes wrong, it’s me to be blamed.”

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said it’s too late to change the fixture right now, “but we have an arranged a flight from Mumbai early January 31,” Dhar said. The Mohun Bagan coach Sen further pointed fingers at the green and maroon fans who disappointed with their turnout four days after more than 62,000 supporters watched the I-League derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.

“It’s really unfortunate if you pit it against the derby match. That day we saw the crowd swelling. At least the Mohun Bagan supporters ,who keep on shouting with placards could have come and cheered for a team on a day, when we’re representing India,” he said as a sparse turnout was seen at the gigantic Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. Asked about Cornell Glen’s missed chances, he said: “Despite his off day, Glen had a goal to his credit. It’s good for Glen, it will give him confidence.”

“Norde was outstanding, his speed and agility was unmatched. Jeje Lalpekhula was also equally good and scored from a ‘zero degree’ angle but he also missed an easy goal. It’s part of football.” Tampines Rovers head coach V Sundramoorthy said they lost to a team who played well. “They have a good attack. Norde, Yusa created a lot of chances. Norde was very difficult to mark. Mohun Bagan are already in season so the momentum is with them. My team will get better once we play more matches.”