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Rains may force shift in semi-finals

Calcutta: East Bengal’s Federation Cup quarter final against Vasco may have to be rescheduled at the last minute if “the situation demands” so.

AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco, who arrived in the city late evening, had a meeting with IFA secretary Subrata Dutta.

Dutta later said: “The entire ground has been covered with tarpaulin. Three senior IFA officials are supervising the work to improve the ground at Salt Lake Stadium.

“Work will again resume from 6 am on Monday. As of now, the ground is in a playable condition. In case a downpour renders the turf unplayable, the match may have to be deferred by a day. The final decision in such a scenario will rest with the match commissioner.”

Earlier, AIFF president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi visited the stadium along with Dutta in the morning and asked him to try and stick to the schedule.

While there is no ambiguity about the final on Saturday, the semi-finals scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday may have to be rescheduled to allow a day’s gap between matches. This will also give adequate rest to the ground.

Das Munshi said that any further deferment might lead to changes in other domestic tourneys listed in the AIFF soccer calendar. Any change of venue might also draw protests from outstation teams who have already made their exit. “They might also feel victimised,” Das Munshi added.

He, however, said that once the Federation Cup was over, the AIFF along with the IFA and state sports department would take steps to ensure that the turf is properly maintained throughout the season.

Dutta said adequate steps were taken to remove the slush and muck and prepare the ground for rest of the matches. Saw dust will also be sprayed.

Astroturf mooted

The AIFF president informed that he would write to the state government to install an astroturf at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.

“According to a Fifa guideline, the game can be played on astro turf. This is already in place in countries like Malaysia and Japan. China is also set to start it from next year,” Das Munshi said.

“We want Rabindra Sarobar Stadium exclusively for soccer. The state government’s approval will be sought in this regard,” he said.

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