St Joseph's coach Arthur Pereira with Tanishq Nath (left) and Lavin Lexkher (right) at Azad Maidan yesterday. PIC/SURESH KARKERA
St Joseph's coach Arthur Pereira with Tanishq Nath (left) and Lavin Lexkher (right) at Azad Maidan yesterday. PIC/SURESH KARKERA

The Mumbai Schools Sports Association authorities, referees and even coaches of the participating schools - St Joseph's High School (Malad) and St Xavier's High School (Borivli) - were oblivious to a very basic error that occurred during one of the matches of the U-16 Division II football tournament at Azad Maidan yesterday.

Two St Joseph's players - Lavin Lexkher and Tanishq Nath sported the same number - 9 - on the back of their jerseys even as the line-up mentioned the same number against both the player's name. Jersey numbers are allocated to players to help officials differentiate between them in terms of goals scored, fouls committed, etc.

Duplicity of jersey numbers is a strict no-no as it may lead to incorrect information being recorded.

When Lexkher dribbled past two St Xavier's High School (Borivli) defenders to score his opening goal, confusion prevailed as both Lexkher and Nath wore jerseys with the same number printed on their back. When mid-day brought this to the notice of referee Rahul More, he said: "It's the prerogative of the school and the coach to see to it that team has a proper kit when they come for the match."

When asked being the match official, is it not his duty to ensure such things don't happen, More blamed MSSA and coaches instead. "No one thinks from the referee's point of view. When we inform the coaches, they shrug it off saying they will take care from the next match." Arthur Pereira, 69, coach of the Malad outfit defended his decision to field players with same jersey numbers. "Though the season has begun, our school is yet to provide us with the new kit. That's why some players are using last year's jerseys. Honestly, for such school tournaments it's not necessary to have a proper kit."

Meanwhile, MSSA general secretary Sebastian Fernandes put the onus on the referee and the coach. "It is absolutely wrong for the team to field two players with the same jersey numbers. The referee must take immediate action and stop the game, but at the same time coaches and the school should also look into it. We also have bibs in case teams don't have proper jersey. MSSA have other things to look into. We can't keep check on everything that happens on the field.