The word ‘unprofessional’ is often used by many to criticise Indian football, and another example was seen on Tuesday afternoon at the Salt Lake Stadium. Influential Nigerian duo Uga Okpara and Edeh Chidi were both initially named in East Bengal’s starting eleven for their home AFC Cup match against Singapore’s Tampines Rovers, but the two were seen on the bench when the teams took the field.
Chidi eventually came on for an injured Andrew Barisic after 14 minutes, but it wasn’t clear why the two Nigerians were kept among the substitutes for this crucial encounter.
Naturally, in the post-match press conference, the first question to East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan was about the absence of the two Nigerians, and the Englishman’s response shocked everyone, as he revealed that the jerseys of the two players weren’t available, and thus they were excluded from the starting XI.
“I had to drop them (from the XI) because their jerseys didn’t arrive. Yes! even though it sounds funny but that is the reason. Its absolutely unacceptable and amateurish but that is what happened. The jerseys were available five minutes after the match started so I probably would have had to bring on Baljit (Sahni) for Barisic if the jerseys weren’t there,” Morgan stated.
Later, some club officials put the blame on the players for the goof-up, explaining that on every matchday it’s the players’ responsibility to bring their own jersey. This is something unimaginable in most countries, but unfortunately, Indian football continues to be unprofessional for such petty issues too.
It was later learnt that the two had actually brought the regular red-and-yellow kit, but East Bengal were supposed to wear white jerseys and black shorts today.
Just imagine East Bengal playing a home knockout match in the AFC Cup, and a number of their key players unable to feature because they forget to bring the right kit.
In truth, today was a major blunder on East Bengal’s part, but will the lesson be learnt?