India players put up a united front against criticism of skipper Bhaichung Bhutia and coach Bob Houghton in sections of the media. In a statement released on the Football Players' Association of India (FPAI) website, they also denied claims of 'lack of unity and team spirit'.
"There are absolutely no differences cropping up in the team. We are like a family have always been like that. I give my full support to Bhaichung Bhutia and Bob Houghton" said Climax Lawrence, who had led the team in the absence of Bhaichung Bhutia.
Bhutia could only play the last 15 minutes of India's match against South Korea that they eventually lost 1-4.
They also lost their group matches against Bahrain and Australia in the ongoing Asian Cup. Striker Sunil Chhetri, who scored two goals in the Asian Cup.
"It is annoying and upsetting that we are receiving comments about team spirit after our performance in the Asian Cup. We don't deserve this treatment after giving our heart and soul for our country," he said
Bhutia, against whom most of the criticism has been directed so far for being in the squad despite a long battle with a right calf injury, said:
"Questioning our team spirit and unity is absolutely rubbish. We have great team unity and we hope people don't try and break our team spirit.
"We will always stick together and try to do our best as we have done in the Asian Cup," he added.