Mohun Bagan AC might have become the first Indian team to win a match in the AFC Champions League, but their manager Sanjoy Sen was still left furious over the non-cooperation of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) over their fixture congestion.
The Mariners had hoped that the AIFF would take a lenient stance with them, especially considering the fact that they had just created Indian football history, as no Indian team had won a single match — not even in the AFC Champions League qualifiers — before their 3-1 triumph over Tampines Rovers FC on Wednesday night.
However, Sen was informed after the match that Mohun Bagan’s weekend fixture in Pune against DSK Shivajians would go on as planned, which means they would have played four matches in the space of 11 days after their match against Shandong Luneng Taishan FC on the 2nd of next month.
“This is not how football should be played. Nowhere else in the world does this happen. Of course, they could have postponed it since the number of matches this year are much lesser,” said a visibly irked Sen after the match.
“AIFF has to take care of such things if Indian football is to progress. The whole organisation has just sold itself short. Now, what relevance do they have? They have to think long and hard about that,” he continued.
Sen also seems to have suggested a bit of a conspiracy at play here, with the AIFF denying to ease up on their fixture congestion.
“There are a lot of fine issues at play here. In spite of these things, I would say that Indian football is in very bad hands right now. Football [in India] cannot improve like this,” bellowed an angry Sen at the reporters in the post-match press conference.
“This is the state of AIFF. This is the way football is run. It’s unfortunate for us, [for] any team which is ambitious, and wants to achieve something, this is a huge barrier,” he added.
Mohun Bagan have a lot of travelling to do now
These recent developments mean that the Mariners would have to do a lot of travelling in the next few days. Firstly they have to shift their focus to the I-League, with a match against DSK Shivajians on Saturday, in Pune. According to sources, Mohun Bagan are set to take an early-morning flight out to the Maharashtrian city, on Thursday, giving the players little time to rest after the game. They have just a two-day break after the DSK game, in which they would have to make a long 4,663 km trip to Jinan, in order to play Shandong Luneng Taishan FC. To top that off, Mohun Bagan players would have to adjust from temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius in Pune to zero degrees in Jinan.
To put things into perspective, the Italian and the German federations have a Friday or Monday slot for the domestic fixtures in order to give their Champions League and Europa League teams an extra day before or after (respectively) their continental matches.
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