| East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick will be relieved to see Douglas de SIlva (left) return and expect Mike Okoro to fire in Sunday’s match
Calcutta, April 12: About a month ago, it seemed that the fate of the National League was a foregone conclusion and the East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick was keen to wrap things up straight away. But a disastrous result in Ludhiana, a month’s break, and then again a bad restart — things suddenly start looking far from rosy for the red-and-gold brigade.
But a hard-core optimist that he is, Bhowmick is not weighing too much on the couple of losses — theirs only in the League so far — as they take on Indian Bank at the Salt Lake Stadium Sunday.
“I don’t know why everyone around is making such a fuss about the losses. I never said we will be the unbeaten champions. The bottomline is to win the league and I’m confident the boys will make it happen,” the coach said after an hour’s practice at the home ground Saturday.
East Bengal lost by identical 0-2 margins to JCT and Mahindra United in their last two away games. The city giants, currently on 43 points from 19 games, are still six points clear of their nearest rivals Vasco.
East Bengal have to get at least four points from the last three games, provided Vasco win all their matches. However, if East Bengal win against Indian Bank and Vasco lose points against ITI, the league will be wrapped up by Bhowmick’s side.
“I don’t care if Vasco win tomorrow, we would beat them to the title,” Bhowmick said. “My aim was to reach the 50-point mark and there is no reason why we can’t achieve this.”
Talking about his team, the coach said: “Alvito D’Cunha will not be available with a double yellow. But there have been innumerable occasions in the season when we had to take the field with much depleted sides than this,” Bhowmick said.
His confidence in his reserve bench is not at all misplaced. It is these junior boys who had won them the IFA Shield. The coach informed that he will field Suley Musah in the striker’s position in absence of Alvito, who is considering a switch to the South African club Manning Rangers at the end of this season.
Bhowmick, however, will be relieved by the fact that his No. 1 goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee is back in action.
Douglas De Silva, East Bengal’s Brazilian recruit who missed the last game with a double-yellow, will be back and will play as the defensive screen.
Another relief for the red-and-gold brigade is that Indian Bank now look hardly like the team that had held the league leaders 3-3 in Chennai.
Nadika Jayasuriya and Imran Mohammed, two of their Sri Lankan stars, have returned to their country citing family reasons.
The scheduled the start was delayed by an hour and half following a request from both clubs. Officials obtained the permission the AIFF and DD Sports, the official telecasters of the meet, and the match will now start at 4 pm instead of 2:30 pm.