For almost five minutes, nobody alighted the team bus after it arrived at the team hotel here in the afternoon. Hesitation, apprehension surrounded the Churchill Brothers team before coach Carlos Alberto Pereira finally decided to lead the way inside.
Tired and mentally exhausted after a 20-hour ordeal, none of the players seemed eager to speak out of turn.
But the veteran Brazilian coach was still game to field questions.
“This is the first time I have faced such a situation. The cabin crew knew who Odafa was and probably wanted their moment of glory. Well, they got it,” said Pereira.
“I was there when the incident happened. Odafa’s accidentally touched the airhostess but she didn’t say anything. Instead, she went to call one of her colleagues to create a scene. I know Odafa.
“He would have never done that intentionally. We even solved the problem with the pilot but things got out of hand when we reached Mumbai,” the 63-year-old said.
When the plane touched down at the Mumbai airport, Pereira said he was surprised to see police waiting for them. “Police were asking for Odafa and Felix Chimaokwu and only then did Arindam and Ogba Kalu intervene.
“Arindam was just a witness but he argued for Odafa and so they were taken away by the airport police. But the officials were very polite and gave us a clean chit after Joaquim Alemao and other club officials intervened.”
But Pereira seemed incensed that people went overboard with a ‘bunch of lies’. “Even when the girl arrived at the police station, I accused her of lying and she did not have any answer,” Pereira said.
Thrown out of gear ahead of a crucial I-League match against Mohun Bagan on Thursday, Pereira had no option but to call off any plans they had of match-eve practice. “With the mental condition they are in, I can’t ask them to go the field and train now,” he
said. They are also without Robert Lalthamvana and Nascimento Silveira, out due to injury and double booking.
That could give a fair bit of undue advantage to Mohun Bagan, who after a Federation Cup slip-up would be looking to start off their I-League campaign with a bang. Their defensive woes still, however, continue. “Deepak Mondal and N. Mohanraj are still unfit,” said coach Karim Bencherifa.
Alemao to sue airline
PTI adds from Margao: Churchill Brothers patron Churchill Alemao said he will file a defamation suit against SpiceJet for tarnishing the team's image. “It is four years now that Odafa is playing for our team and was never involved in misbehaviour with women. I know his nature. It's hard to believe the allegations against him. It's a conspiracy to tarnish our image.”