United Sikkim have certainly come a long way after the disastrous 10-1 thrashing meted out by Prayag United as they followed that up with a 2-1 defeat to Sporting Clube de Goa and a 2-2 draw with Pune FC.
Against the Red Lizards, The Snow Lions had enough chances in the first half to end the game as a contest but their profligacy upfront cost them in the end as James Moga scored the crucial equaliser for the home side.
“Yes (we have improved), coming after 10-1 situation and narrowing to 2-1 in Goa and against a good team like Pune to 2-2 is certainly commendable. The players played with heart and wer determined to at least some point or the other from the away matches,” said Bhaichung Bhutia, the player-manager of United Sikkim.
The game was marred by a poor refereeing as the U Bora awarded a contentious penalty to Pune FC which Jeje Lalpekhlua failed to convert in the 53rd minute. On being asked what he thought of the referee’s decision, Bhaichung sarcastically took a dig at those involved.
“I apologize to everyone. I do not understand what’s going around. Is it something that I have done wrong? If yes, then I apologize but are United Sikkim getting hurt for it?” questioned Bhaichung.
“Our team has been at the receiving end of two red cards, three penalties against us. We are a young team and in our first year in the top division. We would wish if 50:50 decisions are given in our favour as other teams benefit from it. Why don’t we get it?” he argued.
“That was certainly not a penalty and if the referee has given it, let the people decide it as the game was televised,” he added.
Bhaichung mentioned that United Sikkim would produce several players for the national team in the years to come.
“United Sikkim will provide a lot of players to the national team. We are a low budget team and we do not have the money that a Dempo, East Bengal or Mohun Bagan enjoy. If we had, things would have been different,” he said.
Philippe De Ridder was moved to the Football Director’s position after the 10-1 humiliation against Prayag United as Bhaichung took over the reins from the Belgian.
“I think it was one off day for us. These things do happen and we were caught on the wrong foot. We have tried to move on. De Ridder has done well and I have no regrets on appointing him as the coach earlier,” he explained.
United Sikkim do not have an AFC ‘A’ coaching license holder at the helm and Bhaichung believes that they shall fulfill the criterion at the turn of the year or sometime in January.
“We have informed the AIFF that by December or January we shall have a coach with the ‘A’ license. We can’t just rush our decision because of the criterion,” he signed off.
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