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Bhutia is India's footballer of the year

December 23, 2008 19:30 IST

After an inspirational showing in India's AFC Challenge Cup triumph fetched him the most valuable player award in the tournament, it came as no surprise when the All India Football Federation named Baichung Bhutia the country's player of the year at its Annual General Meeting in Delhi on Tuesday.

The India and Mohun Bagan skipper, who first won the award in 1995, is the only player after I M Vijayan to win it twice.

Vijayan was bestowed the honour thrice since its inception in 1992.

The meeting was chaired by Union Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel, who is also a senior vice-president of the AIFF.

Patel, who will the acting chief in absence of an indisposed AIFF president Priyaranjan Dasmunshi -- he was re-elected unanimously for another term on Tuesday -- hinted that secretary-general Alberto Colaco will also continue.

"We won't have any major upheavals," confirmed Patel, who addressed the media. Colaco's tenure comes to an end in December but it is likely that he will get an extension.

The Civil Aviation Minister said he would be looking into Air India's commercial entity criteria that has so far been in the doldrums.

"It is a government institution and hence it is very difficult to turn it into a commercial entity. But things are under process. Air India and ONGC are facing difficulties in this regard. We are talking to our legal experts and though the commercial entity criteria couldn't be met this time, we are hopeful things will be sorted out soon," said Patel.

As acting president, Patel said his job would be to keep things in motion besides adding that he would be talking to Bharti Airtel group and local authorities in Goa to resolve the land dispute that has prevented the AIFF's football academy from coming up there.

Earlier, the AGM unanimously elected the below-mentioned office-bearers.

President: Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi.

Vice-presidents: Praful M Patel (WIFA, West), AR Khaleel (Karnataka, South), Subarata Dutta (IFA, East), Venod Sharma (Chandigarh, North), Ankur Dutta (Assam, North East).

Treasurer: Hardev Jadeja (Gujarat).

Executive committee members: Joaquim Alemao (Goa), KMI Mather (Kerala), CR Vissawanathan (Tamil Nadu), Tempo Bhutia (Sikkim), Inder Singh (Punjab), Sunil Bhardwaj (Haryana), M A Alam (Orissa), L Ranjith Roy (Manipur), Larsing M Sawyan (Meghalaya), AR Dev (Madhya Pradesh), Rakesh Yadav (Railways).

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