Coach Karim Bencherifa’s words may have been laced with sarcasm, but Mohun Bagan’s talisman, Jose Ramirez Barreto, was forthright. Expressing displeasure at the Ambedkar Stadium turf, ahead of their crunch I-League match against Mahindra United, Barreto said, “The ground is not fit to host such an important match. You will understand once you go towards the midfield.
“It’s a pity that we will be playing our most important match here and Churchill will be playing in Goa (regarded the best in the country).”
Bencherifa, however, said, “The ground is soft, smooth,” but the smile said it all.
The coach seemed more interested in talking about the match in which they will be missing N.S. Manju, Marcos Perreira, Lalkamal Bhowmick and Rakesh Masih — all out with double bookings. “We have quite a few options and will see what we can do,” Bencherifa said.
Barreto also criticised the AIFF, saying it was not doing enough for clubs. “In Malaysia, the federation gives aid to clubs before and at the end of the season. The AIFF should do something like this.” The Brazilian also felt that suspending the I-League and Federation Cup for the 2009-10 season — the AIFF is contemplating the move keeping in mind the national team’s preparations for the 2011 Asian Cup — would affect clubs badly as “the players will be earning even without playing”.
Air India player let off
The AIFF on Tuesday told Air India's Syed Farid, who is alleged to have pushed a referee during his team’s last match, to apologise. “It was one of the organisers assisting the referee he pushed,” said coach Bimal Ghosh.