Mumbai FC manager Henry Picardo was left fuming after his team was not provided transportation to return from Assam yesterday, a day after their 1-2 loss to Shillong Lajong FC in an I-League game.
Mumbai FC's Henry Picardo
Mumbai FC players, tired from playing the previous afternoon, boarded their Mumbai-bound flight at 7.30am but only after hours of uncertainty as the bus scheduled to ferry them to Guwahati airport failed to arrive.
"We were told the bus will arrive at 4.45am. We waited and waited but the bus never came. I tried calling those in charge, but they have still not returned my calls.
We waited for more than an hour. We had to check in at the airport two hours in advance considering we were a big group. We struggled to find cabs that early in the morning and it was also very cold, around 18 degree celsius," said the 41-year-old, who pointed out that the authorities should have at least thought of the security of the players. "This is highly irresponsible. We were new to the place and it is a sensitive area.
You frequently read about bad things happening there. It's dangerous," reckoned Picardo, whose team had a long day as they were scheduled to travel to Pune yesterday by road for their home games since their home ground Cooperage is under renovation.
Local manager on behalf of the Assam Football Federation DJ Kalita was the man responsible for arranging Mumbai FC's transportation. He blamed the delay/absence of the bus on a technical glitch. "We regret what has happened. They are new to our place. But there were issues with the bus, which is why we were delayed. By the time the bus reached the hotel the team had already left," Kalita told MiD DAY.
The hotel staff however contradicted Kalita's explanation. "They (Mumbai FC) were made to wait for quite some time. We had great difficulty in finding cabs for them. And the bus they were supposed to travel in did not arrive, not even after they left," said Hotel Agneedeep Continental's front office manager Chintu Baishya.
I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said that it is the home team that looks into transportation of travelling teams and not the I-League or All India Football Federation. He however assured appropriate action ion the matter.
"What has happened is unfortunate. According to the rules, home teams are supposed to make the visiting team's travel arrangements. I have not received any formal communication from Mumbai FC yet. Once that happens, we'll get Shillong Lajong involved," said Dhar.