Bhaichung Bhutia is flying down to Delhi on Thursday. Not to take part in the Republic Day celebrations but to do some much needed damage control as India’s preparations for the FIFA under-17 World Cup has suddenly hit the doldrums.
On Tuesday evening, India’s under-17 World Cup coach Nicolai Adam was asked to resign after 21 national team players signed a letter against the (poor) behaviour of the German coach who was hired by the AIFF in February 2015.
Considering the serious nature of the letter, that indirectly amounted to child abuse, the AIFF top bosses promptly decided to fire German coach Adam without even calling an emergent committee meeting.
Adam and his assistant coach Etibar Nizami Ibrahimov apparently beat up players and repeatedly ‘terrorised’ the youngsters during training session and matches. An entire team signing a letter and revolting against a coach is unheard of in Indian football.
What will be Bhutia’s role?
The former India captain is going to play peacemaker. Speaking to HT from Siliguri, Bhutia said: “When a coach tries hard, there is bound to be some heartburn. The players are young and emotional. These things are not uncommon in sport.”
Bhutia said it would not be prudent to axe a coach when the World Cup is a little over eight months away (October 6-28).
“Once we sit across the table, the issues will get sorted, I am sure. After all, 70 per cent of the players have been selected by Adam himself,” said Bhutia.
The national camp is scheduled to resume in Goa on February 1 after the players return from their week-long break. But whether the players will be able to strike a cordial note with their coach remains to be seen.
Adam, whose credibility as Azerbaijan’s U-16 and U-17 national coach swayed the AIFF, could not be reached for comments.
Not amused at the turn of events, the Sports Authority of India, that has spent a fortune on Adam, did not react.
India’s tryst with foreign coaches has once again hit the abyss.