Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bhaichung hunts for new faces for United Sikkim FC

Gangtok, May 19: United Sikkim, which failed to qualify for the I-League this time, is looking for footballers from the 1st division clubs to join them and prepare for the next season in 2012.

Bhaichung Bhutia, co-owner of the club, is currently in Calcutta scouting for players and persuading footballers with the I-League teams to join the Sikkim squad, said senior manager of United Sikkim Arjun Rai.

The I-League season is about to end and players would be available after the event, an opportunity which United Sikkim did not have when it was selected for the second division I-League tournament in March.

With most footballers playing for the I-League clubs, the newly formed United Sikkim had to take the field with footballers from the second division clubs, players taken on loan from the East Bengal team, several local talents and four foreigners from lesser known teams.

Bhaichung, however, managed to bring in the national team’s vice-captain and close friend Rennedy Singh, and defender of the national team, N.S. Manjoo, to play for the club.

United Sikkim topped the qualifying round at Guwahati but came fifth in the final round in Shillong. The club played seven matches in the final round with four draws, two wins and a loss.

“Bhaichung and Rennedy Singh will remain with United Sikkim although they have received offers from big clubs to play in the I-League in the next season. Bhaichung is determined that United Sikkim will qualify in the I-League within three years and become one of the most successful clubs in the country and Asia,” said senior manager Rai.

According to him, now that the I-League is almost over, officials are talking to interested players so that they join United Sikkim.

“Apart from those whom we will retain from the previous squad we have released the other players. The signing process for new players is on to form a team of 30 and start training at the Paljor Stadium here from July second week. We will have a new stronger team for the next second division with which we want to qualify in the I-League,” said Rai.

H. Stanly Rozario
H. Stanly Rozario will continue as the club’s chief coach, he said.

Bhaichung would be arriving in Gangtok on May 26 along with Rennedy to play for United Sikkim in an exhibition match during the inauguration programme of the artificial turf at Paljor Stadium.

The next event for the club is the Independence Day football tournament to be organised by the Sikkim Football Association (SFA) at Paljor Stadium in August. Two months later the Governor’s Gold Cup, a premier football event organised by the SFA, is scheduled to be held here.

“We will be playing in the Independence Day tournament and the Governor’s Gold Cup. We would also play in major tournaments if we are invited so that our players get enough match practice before the next second division in 2012. Last time we had to do with a hurriedly assembled team and our main players Bhaichung and Rennedy were injured. This time we have the luxury of selecting and signing good players from other clubs and almost a year to train and play as a team,” Rai said.

He added that the club performed well in the I-League tournament and will do better in the next season . “We not only topped the qualifying round at Guwahati but lost only once in the final round. We drew against Lajong FC and Sporting Club de Goa, the clubs which have been promoted to I-League this season,” Rai said

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