AFA face-saver backfires

Guwahati, Jan. 23: The Assam Football Association's face-saving exercise of bringing in an AIFF official to inspect the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, after the February 6 India-Palestine friendly international match was shifted to Cochin, backfired on its secretary Ankur Dutta with president Hemendra Nath Brahma exposing the lack of coordination between the two.

AIFF competition director Anil Kamat arrived today at the request of the AFA to inspect the stadium once again to take a final call on the shift of venue which Brahma claimed to have opposed vehemently.

"I called up the AIFF repeatedly to not send anyone as the shift was already finalised in the AIFF executive meeting and the ground condition was not up to the mark. However, I was told that it was on the basis of a special request by our AFA secretary that Kamat was asked to inspect the ground," Brahma said.

"It is a waste of money, time and energy. If we cannot enjoy the support of our own government even after the chief minister's assurances, we don't deserve this kind of event in our state. I feel we should not use the AFA's office for someone's political face- saving exercise or for political gain," the AFA president remarked.

Dutta, when contacted, said, "Yes, we did request the AIFF to send an observer before taking a final call on the shifting because it would be unfair to deprive us of the match by taking a decision sitting in Delhi. Now, we have nothing to complain about."

"It has also established that the world class infrastructure at our disposal is not maintained properly," he added.

Brahma and AFA treasurer Dhonsing Rongpi accompanied Kamat during the inspection in the absence of Dutta, who is recuperating from a limb injury. Brahma felt today's exercise would have an adverse impact on the AFA's future. The difference of opinion also led to Brahma revealing today that Dutta often does not take him into confidence in some of the aspects of the association which the latter dismissed, saying that the president was always informed about major decisions.

"We sometimes do not want to disturb him for small things because it becomes difficult for him to travel all the way from Kokrajhar to Guwahati," Dutta said. Brahma's observation is endorsed by a section of the AFA office bearers too when they often complain that Dutta runs a one-man show in the AFA.

Dutta, however, rubbished the allegation.

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