In a bizarre turn of events which has courted a lot of controversy, TRAU FC coach Dimitris Dimitriou departed the club for the second time this I-League season.
His sacking was uncalled for given that the former Manchester City assistant coach guided the club to four straight wins upon his return in late December, taking them to third in the league standings.
Dimitriou’s exit caused a stir after TRAU FC hinted on their Facebook page that the 49-year-old had been shown the door over connection with bookies, which they deleted. The club later mentioned in a post that they would begin investigation behind the head coach’s sacking, who has now hit back at the false accusations by TRAU FC general secretary Phulen Metei.
The Cypriot rubbished of the allegations of match-fixing as implied on the Facebook post, stating they were engineered by Meitei.
“None of the club technical committee members were aware about the Facebook post,” Dimitriou told Scroll.in.
He added, “Meitei wrote all this bull**** on Facebook and then erased it. He is the administrator of the page. If you check his phone number and the contact of the Facebook admin, the numbers match. How can a coach fix matches when he is winning? I came to India for a better career but Phulen didn’t want me to succeed.”
Dimitriou alleged that Meitei tried to control all matters relating to the club, including calls relating to the team selection, which was the reason why he left TRAU just a month after signing for them in the summer.
The former TRAU coach revealed that during the pre-season, he flew to Cyprus to spend few days with his family but received a letter from Meitei saying he had been released from the club.
“If I was another coach Meitei could control, we wouldn’t have a problem,” Dimitriou said.
“The main problem about Meitei is his jealousy. He wanted the coach to only train the team and he wanted to take over. I told him to f*** off. I’m not the best coach but I have my own philosophy and personality. Let people judge me from the results,” he asserted.
Douglas da Silva replaced Dimitriou but the Brazilian failed to deliver results, going winless in all four matches with TRAU FC losing the first three. Dimitriou also alleged that Meitei wanted to make him sign a new contract on his return, with a clause stating that the former cannot choose the matchday squad and playing eleven.
“After we lost the first three games, fans wanted me to be there,” Dimitriou said.
“Meitei accepted at the end of the day it was the right decision to bring me back. He didn’t expect me to do well with the players we had. When we started getting points, Meitei began causing me problems. When the team was losing, why didn’t he write anything on Facebook? Because he wanted the team to lose [under Silva] and was satisfied. If I had done the same, he would slaughter me,” he added.
Dimitriou maintained that he was aware of the problems caused by Meitei but chose to return back since he was cordial with the players and his coaching staff, who were still present including assistant Mike Eracleous, fitness trainer Samiran and goalkeeping coach Hazran. They were all removed when Dimitriou returned to India for the second time.
“Meitei threatened my assistant and sacked him,” he said.
“He also removed the goalkeeping coach. Then, he lied to the executive committee that the fitness trainer was engaged with another club. When they left, I had to manage everything. Players weren’t paid. When we went to Goa [to face Churchill Brothers], two players had to sleep in a single bed. You can’t think of the inconvenience I faced there. I stayed for my players,” Dimitriou lashed out.
Dimitriou hasn’t ruled out a return back to TRAU, stating that he has a ticket for Kochi when they play Gokulam Kerala in Kozhikode on Sunday. Dimitriou has written to the All India Football Federation and threatened to take the matter to Fifa. The demands from Dimitriou to return back for the third time haven’t stopped.
“The sponsor has told me to return since the players need me. My heart is with them,” he said.
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