United Sikkim Football Club (USFC) will have CEO Baichung Bhutia as its interim coach till a new one is identified.
The team, which suffered a humiliating 10-1 drubbing at the hands of Kolkata-based Prayag United FC last Saturday, decided to re-designate its chief coach Philippe de Ridder as the football director from Tuesday and relieved him of all responsibility associated with the first team.
In a statement, the club said coach de Ridder would be handling administrative aspects. “He is no longer in charge of the team or any player related responsibilities. Assistant coach Syed Altaffudden Ahmed is discharged from his duties … Bhutia would be acting as an interim coach till the right person is available to undertake such responsibility,” the statement said.
The team will be practicing in Kolkata for two days before flying to Goa on Thursday to play its sixth I-League match against Sporting Clube de Goa on Sunday.
To assuage the hurt sentiments of the fans, Bhutia said in a statement, “At the outset, I extend our thanks to all our fans for their generous support and concern. It is indeed very difficult for me to accept such a humiliating defeat. It was our first away match and we had expected a decent performance…As a co-owner of United Sikkim FC, I am fully responsible to guide the club to a justified position and to motivate the team,” he said.
The ousted coach did put up a brave face saying the team missed four first team players for different reasons especially in the defence. While apologising to the fans for the huge debacle, de Ridder said the team would bounce back.
“We had a very bad day; we did not perform to the expectations. We should not forget the excellent four matches the team played. One very bad match should not erase all the good work done,” he said.
de Ridder became the third coach to lose the job in this I-League season after Santosh Kashyap of Mohun Bagan and Sanjoy Sen of Prayag United and now the Belgian.