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The Lajong tactician called for more help for the Indian referees to improve refereeing standards in Indian football.

A 90th minute winner from Edeh Chidi broke Shillong Lajong hearts as the north-eastern club went down 1-0 to Salgaocar in the first semi-final of this season’s Federation Cup.

Lajong gave a good account of themselves in the game as they dominated possession and were denied by an in-form Karanjit Singh twice before Chidi scored the only goal of the match.

The club from Shillong believe their goalkeeper was fouled in the build-up to Chidi’s goal but their coach Pradhyum Reddy told after the match that he would have to see the video of the incident again to be sure whether his team was hard done by and only then they would write to the AIFF.

“My view was blocked by the cameraman in front of me so I will have to look at the replay and then analyze whether it was a foul or not. My players are all disheartened by the referee’s decision to not give us a free-kick but I will have to see it again and if we find that there is a strong case, we will write to the federation,” Reddy told

Coach Reddy opined that referee Pratap Singh, who was fault for not awarding Dempo a clear penalty against East Bengal after Tolgay handled the ball inside the box, should have been kept out of the limelight.

“He was under pressure even prior to the game because I believe he didn’t give Dempo a penalty. I think he should have been kept out of the firing line as this was an important semi-final.”

The British national, who holds a UEFA ‘A’ License, further added that Indian referees need more help to do their job properly and thus should be sent to foreign exposure trips just like the players and coaches.

“To improve Indian football, the refereeing standards have to be improved as well. I don’t think we do enough to help our referees. Players go abroad to become better, so do coaches, clubs and even our national team have foreign trips.

“Similarly referees also need to be educated even more, so they too should be sent on such foreign exposure tours. They are in any case under a lot of pressure as one mistake from them changes the complexion of matches. Therefore they too need more help to improve.”

When asked to opine about the match itself, Reddy stated that it was one of the best football matches he had ever experienced in Indian football.

“Today I think both teams played their part to make it a fantastic game. I am proud of my players because despite the gulf in class they played really well.

“Salgaocar are the champions of India and are a great model for us to look up to. We matched them today and were also better in a lot of departments as we had more ball possession, our pass percentage was more.

“We lacked a bit of cutting edge in the final third but we were up against a very good side, who were very well organized at the back. Overall it was the best game I have ever been part of in Indian football.

The 35-year-old admitted that surviving in the I-League is Lajong’s priority and thus will use next month’s Durand Cup to get ready for the marathon league campaign.

“Our priority no doubt is to survive in the I-League so the more matches we get before the start of the league; the better it is for our preparation.”

Reddy signed off by confirming that the north-eastern club won’t be signing any Asian foreigner in the first phase of the 2011-12 I-League as he has enough faith in the young Indian players in his squad.

“We won’t be signing any Asian player in the first phase because I believe there is a lot of talent in our Indian players. They are all mostly young but are ready for the big stage and I want to give them that chance so that eventually they get into the Indian national team.

“Maybe in the second phase we will consider signing an Asian foreigner, if needed,” he concluded.

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