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Colaco hits out at IFA

Calcutta: As East Bengal fell out of the Tata Federation Cup — interestingly, the team that protested most over the condition of the Salt Lake ground and, more interestingly, on a dry day that saw the turf improve — the IFA came in for a good deal of flak from AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco.

It was the most scathing attack on the condition of the pitch and, more importantly, on the organisation.

Watching the East Bengal-Vasco quarter final from the VIP stands, Colaco said: “The ground is better today, the patch-up work seems to have worked. But I must say two matches a day is too much of a pressure on any ground. It was just not done.

“Look, even after the showers in the early part of the meet, the ground held pretty well,” he said. “It had to be given time to seep in downwards. But when you disturb the surface time and again, this process is disturbed…”

IFA secretary Subrata Dutta said he agrees that it was a match too many, maybe, per day. “But do we have any alternative ground in this city to hold a national level match with all the ancillary facilities the federation wants' No, we don’t. The Howrah ground is a good turf, but with no facility of any standard available, and no spectator accommodation. What does one do'”

Nobody is talking about the change in schedule. The final stays put on Saturday, but even Tuesday’s semi-final, said Colaco, could shift by a day if the rains are heavy and the ground gives way to the cesspool it was.

The patchwork so far has been cosmetic — the goalmouth areas sand-dusted, and the rest sprinkled with lots of sand, and that’s about all. Areas around the centre circle look much like dried-up paddy nurseries, the feet remaining unstable thereabouts. Rains could throw all of it out of balance.

Bhaichung issue

And while, Bhaichung Bhutia’s onfield action in the quarter final may have raised eyebrows, his proposed stint with Perak FC of Malaysia remains in the domain of the possible.

AIFF secretary Alberto Colaco said Monday he has received a copy of the club’s executive committee meeting decision — which says the club will allow a maximum of two months to Bhaichung — but added much of the process has yet to be finalised.

“I had a talk with the two officials who are in charge of the Players’ Status Committee of Fifa,” said Colaco. “While they reiterated that six months was the prescribed period for a lien, exceptions have and can be made.”

Club president Dr Pranab Dasgupta asked if this “exception” assurance was “in writing,” and Colaco said “no”.

It looks like the AIFF would be insisting on the club taking the initiative to get the formal okay from Fifa, while the AIFF would then do the rest of the job. Dasgupta said there will be a meeting of “the club’s different committee members Tuesday to take a final decision.”

It looks like the club will be adding a rider to any “okay” it may give to the player.

Dope testing

In another development, dope tests started, for the first time in Indian domestic soccer Monday.

Samples were collected for tests from Vasco’s Agnelo Gomes and East Bengal’s Dipankar Roy, as per Fifa stipulation.

The players were selected through a confidential draw of lots. Samples will be sent to the Fifa-accredited lab in Penang, Malaysia. Results will be in by a week.

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