Coach defends his team selection

Football: Head coach Norio Tsukitate was released from his duties with effect from yesterday, after a disagreement between the coach and the manager of the team broke midway through the Bhutan-Maldives game on Thursday.

Bhutan Football Federation’s (BFF) president, Ugen Tsechup Dorji said that the expulsion of the Japanese coach by BFF at half time of the game as mentioned in the social networking sites was ‘absolutely untrue.’

The president said that without any prior consultation with the federation the coach decided own his own to leave the team. He said that while he was heading towards the locker room to congratulate the Bhutanese team, he walked into the Japanese coach who was bidding farewell to the players.

“It came to me as a surprise when I saw the coach wishing the players good luck for their future and saying that he was leaving,” the president said.

Ugen Tsechup Dorji said that it is ‘totally unacceptable’ in any profession, to step back from your responsibility midway through an important task. “You are the national coach of the team, it is your responsibility for the better or worst, to be there with the team till the end,” he said. “If he had some issues with management, that is to be left after the game was over. As a professional person he had to see the game through.”

Meanwhile, coach Norio who was at his residence saddened by the incident, told Kuensel that he was asked to leave by the manager of the team after they had an argument. “The vice-president of the federation told me to leave, that is official enough for me to leave the team,” said the coach. “As the head coach I have the control of the game, change players and positions, Hishey was trying to take over my responsibility.”

The coach said that although he did not receive any letter from BFF on his eviction, he said after taking to the Japan Football Association (JFA) on the whole matter, the association have asked him to return. “I have no work here, there is no more training, I’ll return to my family soon,” he said.

The head coach defended his team selection and player positions in the game against Maldives. Tshering Dorji, a midfielder in the squad was put in the front on Thursday. “Tshering is weak on defence, I thought if I placed him in the strike he would have to only control the ball and shoot, which he is good at,” said that coach.

The coach added that Karma Shedrup Tshering was not put in the first 11 because of his busy schedule. The former skipper who is also a pilot with the national airlines couldn’t make it for most of the practise sessions with the team said that coach. “Hishey was insisting me on putting Karma in, I believe they are family,” he said.

However, the president said that as the head coach, he had the control over the team and whether to listen to the manager’s suggestions was solely on him. “It’s how you take it, nobody can order the head coach during the course of the match, he’s the in-charge of the game,” he said.

He also added that there’s a distinct difference in the role of the manager and the vice-president. “Hishey Tshering was there not as the vice-president of the federation but as the manager of the team,” he said. “The verbal order that might have exchanged between the two during the game was not an official order, its just an excuse he had used.”

BFF’s general secretary, Ugyen Wangchhuk said that the general public have the notion that the federation fired the coach but in reality he himself wanted to leave. “We could have sorted the problem in a much better way had he informed us about the problem, instead he decided to remain silent and took the decision himself. This clearly shows he wanted to go,” said the GS.

One of the players on the squad said players had developed a good understanding with the coach. “He was a good coach and we learned a lot,” he said. “But nothing is important than the team, BFF might have taken this decision for the betterment of the team.”

Meanwhile, the Japan Football association wants to study the case in detail.

Norio Tsukitate is the fourth Japanese coach who was sent through a memorandum of understanding between BFF and JFA. The 55-year-old coach took over the national team in March this year.

For the game against Hong Kong on October 13, assistant coach Pema will be taking in-charge of the Bhutanese team.

Younten Tshedup