Kalinga Rally from Saturday
East Bengal eves win by a brace
EB look to extend lead
Bhutia has to readjust from the midfield
India plan to play Merdeka Cup
Doubts over Vijayan

Calcutta, Feb. 19: 
The Servo Kalinga Rally, being held in association with The Telegraph, has attracted 25 four-wheelers and 27 two-wheelers.

The rally, being organised to raise funds for Gujarat earthquake relief, will be held on February 24 and 25 and will reach the Gundicha Temple in Puri after a take-off from the first leg which ends at Dhenkanal Stadium in Orissa.

Top rallyists, including the recent Calcutta-Jamshedpur champion Mitil Chakraborty, veterans Bharat Parekh and Bharat Aurora, ladies Gurlukh Ganguly and Saswati Nag Chowdhury of Indian Airlines are among the stars who will be seen in action in this Indianoil-sponsored and Bengal Motor Sports Club organised rally. Also in action will be Deborshi Sadhan Bose. It is interesting to note that Vicky Chandok has prepared the cars for Parekh and Bose.

Most four-wheeler entries are Esteems, the fad in rallying these days.

The route is a fine 900 km stretch with about 18 per cent of comprising ‘unsealed surfaces’ like forest tracks, boulder-strewn riverbeds and pleasant ghat sections.

Total prize money will be Rs 1,84,000 with the best four-wheeler getting Rs 50,000 and the best motorcyclist Rs 25,000.

The prize distribution will be at the Calcutta Club on March 3, with state Governor Viren J. Shah giving away the prizes. On that day the winners will donate theior prize money to the Governor for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The Orissa Tourism department has come ahead with a great deal of help for the rally as this is to raise funds for the earthquake victims. Hotels have been maed tariff-free and food has been discounted.


Calcutta, Feb. 19: 
East Bengal defeated Youth Footballers 2-0 in a women’s football league tie today. Sujata Kar and Nisha Kumari scored the goals for the winners.

In another tie, Income Tax crushed Nabajanma Sangha 5-0. Chaitali Kar (2), Sonali Baidya, Sayanti Ghosh and Swapna Saha were the scorers.

BSF North Bengal win

BSF, North Bengal walloped Chotonagpur RC 8-0 in a group B tie of the BHA League today. E. Lakra sounded the board thrice while V. Barla and A.K. Dungdung scored a brace each. S. Karketta was the other scorer.

In another match, Punjab SC scraped past Sporting Union by a Pawan Paswan goal. Indrajit Singh of Punjab SC was shown the red card for rough play.

Sports for the disabled

Louis Braille Memorial School emerged champions in the blind group at the 18th all-Bengal sports for the disabled yesterday.

Kantai Deaf and Dumb School was the winner among the hearing handicapped while Pandua Grahambel School won in the mentally retarded group.

A total of 585 from 57 handicapped institutions of the state participated in 64 events.

Sarobar SSA win

Rabindra Sarobar Southern Sports Association triumphed over Diamond Harbour Municipal Sports Training Centre 4-2 in the final of the Chancellor Millennium Cup football meet yesterday.


Calcutta, Feb. 19: 
For the first time in the National League, East Bengal will be under some extra pressure. Having jumped to the top of the table after Saturday’s victory over Mohun Bagan, the red-and-gold ranks can now only look over their shoulders — with the fear of being overtaken.

The need to win and log full points, especially in a home match, will aquire a more stringent urgency. An urgency echoed in coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya’s words this morning.

“We’ll have to attack from the very onset. If we are kept waiting for a goal too long, things can get complicated for us,” he said soon after practice. When East Bengal take on Vasco Sports Club of Goa at the Salt Lake Stadium tomorrow, Manoranjan will probably not miss the fact that his team is setting out to do something that none have succeeded in the League so far — beat the Goan outfit.

If Vasco have remained unbeaten in their seven matches till date, a great deal of credit must go to the brilliant goalkeeping of Brazilian Rogerio Ramos. It is also a reflection of how Vasco have been playing their game.

Content on allowing their opponents deep into their half, Derrick Pereira’s young brigade has come to rely on a safety-first waiting game. Cramping opponents with crowding tactics, their attacks have come in the form of the occasional breakaway.

While Ronaldo Da Silva, another Brazilian in their ranks, usually lends the solidity while they soak the pressure in midfield, Vasco’s counter-attacks can be pretty dangerous if their other foreign recruit, Avazbek Koshimov gets into the act. Operating from just behind the front-runner, the Uzbek has scored three of Vasco’s six goals.

In the absence of Edson Wanderley, back in Goa after picking up his second yellow card during a goalless draw with Tollygunge last week, Peter Rodrigues will have to do most of the front-running.

While there is the whiff of a threat in Koshimov, East Bengal’s defence is well-manned. One suspects, their real challenge will be in trying to break down the Vasco defence and score. Manoranjan could surely have done with attacking medio Chandan Das, who will have to sit out with two yellow cards. Isiaka is likely to come back and fill that berth.

East Bengal have the midfield to win the crucial battle there, and keep Dipendu Biswas and Omolaja Olalekan well fed with passes and crosses.

They will have to spread the wings, to stretch the Vasco defence and create the room to operate.

With Pereira, a member of the Salgaocar team that defeated East Bengal in the 1997 Federation Cup final, saying a draw will be good for them, and with East Bengal bent on forcing a win, it promises to be an absorbing duel.


EAST BENGAL: Sangram Mukherjee; Suley Musah, Jackson Agaypong, Dipak Mondal, Ratan Singh; Sur Kumar Singh, Ranjan Dey, Dipankar Roy, Isiaka; Dipendu Biswas, Omolaja Olalekan.

VASCO: Rogerio Ramos; Bhola Dey, Denzil Coutinho, Seby Dias, Caetano Pinho; Ronaldo Da Silva, Gregory Clark, Ravi Babu, Bibian Fernandes; Peter Rodrigues, Avazbek Koshimov.

Key players missing

Tollygunge Agragami will miss some of their key players when they clash with JCT in Ludhiana tomorrow.

It is a bottom-of-the-table clash, Tollygunge having earned six points from seven outings and their rivals three from the same number of matches.

Goalkeeper Prasanta Dora, defender Parthasarathi Dey and Bhabani Mohanty are all unavailable, away on office assignments. Dora will be replaced by his brother Hemanta, while Biswanath Mondal will play as left-back.

Apart from the three ‘casualties’, Abdulateef Seriki is suspended with two yellow cards and Napolean Singh is injured.

Speaking from Ludhiana, Tollygunge coach Amal Dutta said he will employ one stiker upfront since as it is an away match. He also said he would be satisfied with a draw.


Calcutta, Feb. 19: 
Bhaichung Bhutia, likely to be released by his English second division club for India’s pre-World Cup matches, will have to make some adjustments if Sukhwinder Singh plans to field him in his usual position as striker.

The Indian coach is unlikely to displace his principal striker though Bhutia’s role for Bury FC has been that of a midfielder for most of the current season.

“I am playing mostly in midfield and have not been able to score as much as I want (he has scored just once in the league so far, according to the club’s official website).

“I think I have done pretty well this season so far. It has been hard to get suited to the English style but as midfielder it has been much better, he informed when contacted by The Telegraph.

Bhutia’s team is currently placed 15th in the 24-team league from which three are promoted to first division and four relegated. Bury have 38 points from 30 games, having won 11 and lost 14.

“The club is going to release me for those games (pre-World Cup). I should get the leave till the end of the season since our season is getting over in May. So I should get it for a month or so,” the striker informed. He has already spoken to the club chairman in this regard.

The club website shows he has played in 16 matches this season, including 11 in the league. Most of his appearances, however, have been as substitute.

India’s first pre-World Cup match in group 8 is against the UAE in Bangalore on April 8. They play Yemen on April 15 and Brunei on April 20 before flying out for the away matches.


Calcutta, Feb. 19: 
The National Football League for the 2001-2002 season will be held from December 1 to April 30 with a three-week break in February, according to a proposed itinerary of the AIFF. The yearly calendar is yet to be ratified and approved.

According to it, India are likely to play in the Merdeka Cup to be played from June 15-30.

The season will officially begin from June 1 and the inter-state transfer of players are expected to be completed by May 31.

THE PROPOSED CALENDAR (2001-2002): August 15-31: Federation Cup; November: Santosh Trophy; December 1-April 30: National Football League; November/December: Junior/Sub-junior nationals; November/December: U-21 nationals; January 2002: Women’s junior nationals; February: Women’s nationals.

INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS: Preparatory camp (exposure tour) — Stage 1 (May 15-30): For players not in Pre-World Cup team; Stage 2 (June 1-12): For players retained from stage 1 and others; June 15-30: Merdeka Cup. England tour: July 18-25; Preparatory camp: July 7-15. Afro-Asian Games: November 3-11; Preparatory camp: September 1-21 and October 10-31.


New Delhi, Feb. 19: 
Diminutive Basudeb Mondal is unlikely to be India’s captain for the six World Cup qualifiers against UAE, Yemen and Brunei (Asian group 8), scheduled in April-May this year.

Back in favour national coach Sukhwinder Singh feels that Basudeb now lacks the fitness to last a full match and can be used only sparingly.

Sukhwinder has based his observations on Basudeb’s performances in the Millennium Cup group matches and in the recent National Football League (NFL) matches in which even Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya has used him as a second half substitute.

Sukhwinder is also worried about the form and fitness of ageing striker I.M. Vijayan. The national coach feels that Vijayan with his celluloid commitments has slowed down. He is glad that Bhaichung Bhutia will be available for these matches. Baichung is expected to join the Bangalore national camp in Bangalore on March 27. The national camp will commence on March 21.

In his search for a new striker, Sukhwinder has been impressed by the form of Bagan’s R. C. Prakash, East Bengal’s Dipendu Biswas and Salgaocar’s Alvito D’Cunha. He feels that Prakash with 27 goals for Bagan this season has the goal-scoring knack and that Dipendu, who has scored 23 goals, has also re-discovered his form.

Sukhwinder intends to abandon the zonal marking, three-back system with a sweeper, as used by Uzbek coach Islam Akhmedov in the recent Millennium Cup. He will revert back to the 4-4-2 system as he feels that Indian players are more familiar with this way of playing.

Jo Paul Ancheri will be used as a defensive midfielder so that he can occasionally move into attack and score with his whiplash left-footed shots. Incidentally, Ancheri is top-scorer of the current NFL with four goals.

The probables for the camp will be released after the Bengal vs Manipur final of the junior nationals in Bangalore tomorrow.

Sukhwinder feels that the AIFF diktat of only three players from clubs involved in the NFL is not feasible. From Bagan alone Sukhwinder intends to call goalkeeper Sandip Nandy, stopper M. Suresh, midfielders R. P. Singh, James Singh and Rennedy Singh and striker R.C. Prakash.

From East Bengal the likely probables are Dipak Mondal, Sur Kumar Singh, Ratan Singh, Bijen Singh and Dipendu Biswas.

Veterans Bruno Countinho and Carlton Chapman are to be dropped. Sukhwinder has submitted his list based on merit and has left it to AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco to decide on policy.


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