The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vasco catch East Bengal napping
- Federation cup quarters - ASEAN meet champions pay for taking Goa side too lightly, lose 0-1

Calcutta: You arenít supposed to dandily tiptoe around on a soccer field, especially if a match is on. You arenít supposed to pitch tent at the rival defence zone and then just watch the world go by. Because thatís when the world really passes you by. As it did for ASEAN Club Championship toppers East Bengal at the Salt Lake Stadium this evening.

Vasco, who suffered a four-goal thumping the last time the two teams met (in the National League), defended on all fours throughout. They managed to break into a few counterattacks, off one of which they scored, though Sushant Mathew in the 85th minute. East Bengal were thus thrown out of the quarter finals of the Tata Federation Cup.

Vasco go on to meet Mahindra in the second semi-final, as of now scheduled for Wednesday, after Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting cross swords in the first Tuesday.

Pity, the final will not see the best team in the country in action. But itís a price you must pay if you treat your opponents too lightly and if, inside your head, you prioritise your personal career ahead of your teamís. To this extent Bhaichung Bhutia has to take the blame.

When protests about the ground had died down, he came on tentatively. He would work in short sprints and would not let his body suffer a full physical challenge. No snatches, no long runs, no diving headers, no exerting to help a feed. Bhaichung looked as if he was waiting, in peak condition, just for his stint with Perak FC.

Vasco did manage to push a few initiatives in the first half, but into the second session of play, it was East Bengal all the way. Within the first 15 minutes of that session the home team had forced five flag-kicks. Sure Vasco goalkeeper Saji Joy put up a great show ó one powerful free-kick by Douglas da Silva through the Ďwallí was collected brilliantly in the 71st minute, diving to his left.

But there was this long story of misses. In the 51st minute Douglas, who had a good day, was inside the box and with Saji ahead, passed to a better-placed Bhaichung. The spots at the goalmouth looked pretty okay, sand-dusted mostly, but Bhaichung was too careful and Ďslippedí, messing up the opportunity.

Thirteen minutes later Douglas it was again, moving up the left and lobbing to the goalmouth. Bhaichung was standing, facing the goal, only Saji to beat, and he headed daintily, over the bar. A difficult act.

Okoro was trying hard, sometimes too hard, and sent shots and headers off target from close. Then, a fine left-footed volley from the left, caught the near post. Suley Musah, who was brought on only in the 62nd minute, volleyed over from close a 68th-minute Bhaichung pass from the left.

The goal remained elusive till, having drawn out most of the defence, the home side allowed a counter-attack to develop. Suddenly, it was a mad scramble in front of the East Bengal goal and a rather obtuse defensive lapse, with the ball ballooning off a wayward header. Levy Coelho headed it down to the feet of a better-placed Mathew who volleyed home from close.


Vasco: Saji Joy, Seby Dias, John Dias, Selwyn Fernandes, Vinu Jose, Kamal Thapa, Denis cabral, Menino Fernandes, K. Ajayan, Mohammad Qizar (Levy Coelho, 58), Agnelo Gomes (Sushant Mathew, 67).

East Bengal: Sandip Nandy, Dipankar Roy (Suley Musah, 62), Mahesh Gawli, M. Suresh, Debjit Ghosh, Subhas Chakraborty (Raman Vijayan, 86), Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Douglas da Silva, Chandan Das (Bijen Singh, 46), Mike Okoro, Bhaichung Bhutia.

Referee: J. Ravishankar (Delhi).

Bagan up against the PK factor: S3

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