Updated February 8th, 2024 at 15:17 IST

Bhutia not consulted for AIFF technical committee but extends support to chairman Vijayan

Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Wednesday said that although he "wasn't consulted" before being re-inducted in AIFF technical committee, he would still be happy to "support" his former teammate and current chairman IM Vijayan.

Bhaichung Bhutia secured 29 goals in 88 appearances, achieving a ratio of 0.33 between 1995 and 2011. | Image:PTI
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Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Wednesday said that although he "wasn't consulted" before being re-inducted in AIFF technical committee, he would still be happy to "support" his former teammate and current chairman IM Vijayan.

The 47-year-old, who got thrashed in an one-sided AIFF presidential election to Kalyan Chaubey in 2022, headed the AIFF technical committee from 2013-17 before being replaced by Asian Games bronze medallist Shyam Thapa. Vijayan succeeded Thapa in 2022.

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"I wasn't consulted, I just saw my name mentioned somewhere. I've no idea who made the committee and how come my name came in. I just saw my name and I didn't say anything," Bhutia told PTI reacting to the development.

Bhutia however said he's happy to support Vijayan.

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"We have a competent chairman in IM Vijayan. I am ready to provide any support I can." In the recent shake-up, AIFF has removed East Bengal and India legend Manoranjan Bhattacharya and included Santosh Singh, a former Santosh Trophy player of Bihar. The committee also has Shabbir Ali, Thongam Tababi Devi and Victor Amalraj.

Priorities ====== Bhutia continued to criticise the Chaubey-led administration and blamed them for India's recent debacle in the Asian Cup. He said the "top priority" should be three tournaments -- Asian Cup, Asian Games and World Cup Qualifiers -- to take the football forward.

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"Firstly, we need to organise ourselves completely and prioritise support for our national team in key tournaments -- Asian Games, Asian Cup, and World Cup Qualifiers. That should be out top, top priority. Success in these will boost football's growth commercially and in popularity." "Imagine if India qualifies for the World Cup – the game will change significantly in terms of fan following, interest, and commercial opportunities. We must not compromise on supporting the national team. Nehru Cup and SAFF Championships can be secondary." The Igor Stimac-coached side lost all their three matches in the Asian Cup in Qatar, conceding six goals and failed to score any.

"Blaming the team isn't fair. The lack of support during the Asian Cup was a management failure. We should have prepared better.

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"Qualifying for such tournaments is rare, and we should be willing to sacrifice for good results. World Cup qualification is a distant goal, and sacrifices are necessary." On the Asian Cup debacle, he further said: "It's an administrative failure. Internal politics is harming us. The president and general secretary openly fighting.

"Politics happened during the elections. Now, let's focus on growing the game. It's been a year, and politics have already crept into the game. It's very unfortunate," he concluded. 

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Published February 8th, 2024 at 15:17 IST