Controversies plague TN football ahead of South Zone phase of Santosh Trophy

Ignoring the 45 probables selected by renowned coaches including Raman Vijayan, C. M. Ranjith, and Robin Charles Raja, TFA organises another fresh selection trials.

File image of Chennai's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.   -  R. Ragu

After numerous controversies and problems in recent times, the Tamil Nadu team is finally ready to take the field in the South Zone phase of the Santosh Trophy National football tournament that begins in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Ignoring the 45 probables selected by renowned coaches including Raman Vijayan, C.M. Ranjith, and Robin Charles Raja, the Tamil Nadu Football Association (TFA) organised fresh selection trials, without informing the above three, under coaches Grand Durai Pandian, L.R. Titus, Azmathullah, and a few TFA officials.

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Speaking to Sportstar, Grand, the coach/manager of the team, insisted that TN has a good squad but didn’t want to talk much about what had happened.

“I’ve asked the boys to play with intensity. We have worked hard. Having said that it would have been better if we had had a camp much earlier, say one-and-a half months in advance,” he said.

Image tarnished

Former India player Raman Vijayan, who was asked to be the head coach with the concurrence of Ranjit and Robin and TFA Convenor Seeni Mohideen, after the first trials at Loyola College, said the recent incidents had damaged the image of TFA and affected the morale of many players.

“Votes, quotas, and politics matter to the officials than merit. I still wish Tamil Nadu qualifies,” said Vijayan.

No compromise

Robin said the trio didn’t make any compromise in their selections. “We slogged for three days to sift the probables from 450-odd players. We will still be happy if TN makes it,” he said.

Robin insisted that there are four quality players in the current team —Srinivasan Pandiyan (formerly Chennaiyin FC), N. Vijay (formerly Chennai City FC), Senthamil, and Vikram of Bengaluru United).

Ranjith appalled

“What a joke! Many of the good players we selected at Loyola were not in the 45-player list they had picked in the re-selection. With no Chennai Football Association senior division league, we did our job with sincerity. In no other State this will happen,” fumed Ranjith.

The Tamil Nadu team: Nandha Kumar, Manikandan, Pandiyan, Bhoopalan, Ahino Jahine Justin Paul, Niwas, Immanuel, Gukan, Abi, Suresh, Ahammed Sahib, Srinivasan Pandiyan, N. Vijay, Musraff, Diwakar, Dhilipan Raj, Sai Krishna, Keerthi Mohan, Jayaruban, Senthamil, Vikram, Yogeshwaran.

Coach/manager: Grand Durai Pandian & L.R. Titus.

Goalkeeping coach: Azmathullah.

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