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The former India skipper spoke on the allegations of racism by Mumbai FC striker Yusif Yakubu and talked up the I-League title race....

As India is slowly coming to terms with the accusations of racist chanting made by Mumbai FC striker Yusif Yakubu during their I-League match against Mohun Bagan at the Kalyani Stadium on Wednesday, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has remarked that a lack of awareness amongst spectators about the gravity of such chants.

“I think these racial abuses are more due to the lack of knowledge and awareness as far as some of the fans are concerned. Still, being a footballer myself, I owe my apologies to Yakubu for everything he had to go through. I feel for Yakubu,” the former India captain said on the sidelines of a promotional to The Telegraph, here, on Thursday.

The former East Bengal and Mohun Bagan man highlighted the need to raise awareness in India about the ill-effects or racism.

It was learnt by The Times of India that Mumbai FC manager Henry Picardo plans to have a word with Yakubu to get his side of the story before contemplating on whether the club would be lodging an official complaint or not. The Ghanaian had ruled out the chances of lodging a protest and Picardo said that he had no proof in hand.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar had said on Wednesday that no action could be taken without definite proof, but organizers would be asked to keep a closer eye to ensure such incidents do not occur in the future.

On the chances of Churchill Brothers winning the I-League, Bhutia said that the Goans are in a very good position to win but said that the double header with Mohun Bagan would be vital in the title race.

“They are in a good position but they to play two games against Mohun Bagan. Those could be vital as Mohun Bagan are getting better and the (Okolie) Odafa-Tolgay (Ozbey ) combination has also started to click,” opined the Sikkimese Sniper.

India’s ranking slipped to 149 after having climbed up 20 places to 143 only a few weeks ago. The former Bury FC man played down the hype that was associated with this development.

“Ranking, of course, is important. At the same time, though, we shouldn’t go overboard about it. You need to take it into account that India doesn’t play too many international matches. I believe the more international ties we play, the better we’ll become,” observed Bhaichung.

The 36-year old expects big things from East Bengal in their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup campaign. “East Bengal had reached the quarter finals. Now, they are again playing well. So I would really like them to try and go beyond the quarter-final stage. They do have the capability,” he signed off.

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