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‘Business-like’ EB eye semis spot
- Players’ absence big worry for Wari
Bhowmick is not going to take any chances

Siliguri: If there is any truth to the fact that the players are being overused, then the 109th Chlor-Mint IFA Shield match on Monday versus Wari AC should not have been. The match will neither showcase any great level of soccer nor will it prove anything to any of the teams or provide entertainment to the fans here.

However many permutations and combinations may be tried, it is difficult to imagine anything in the result other than an easy East Bengal win. And coach Subhas Bhowmick said he will behave in a rather “business-like manner and concentrate on moving to the semis.”

He said he isn’t looking at how strong or how weak the rivals will be. “I am not going to take any chances, while at the same time neither will I spend more than the necessary time and energy in doing more than that is necessary.” So will he be going for a draw' “That’s what gets us into the semis, so if that be it, so be it,” said the coach. “Of course, once the task of getting to the semis is achieved, we would also go in for the win.”

A projection as modest as can be. But probably there is a bit of apprehension, arising from the way the team threw away chances versus Eastern Railway in the opening match. East Bengal will remain without the services of Alvito D’Cunha and Sur Kumar Singh, and M. Suresh remains sick. “I will not take even a one per cent risk with Alvito,” said Bhowmick. “And Sur Kumar will also do himself and the team a ton of good if he stays out with his injury.” That also was what trainer Kevin Jackson said.

East Bengal did not ‘practise’ per se on Sunday. Instead, they had a half-hour splash-about in the pool at a city hotel. How much this short hydration treatment helped is a matter of debate, but it probably came about more through the need for a rest for the players.

Wari have been in dire straits here. In their first match — versus Eastern Railway on Thursday — they were in with only 12 players. Of the club’s first XI, six could not come anyway because of ONGC office football and recruitment exams. Among them were Palash Ghosh and Supratik Aind.

Also, four players — Saiful Islam, Sanjib Sarkar, Kajal Das and Nasib-ul Haque (the team’s No. 1 goalkeeper) — failed to turn up on departure day by the time set at the Calcutta tent (3pm). Manager Ashim Basu says the club will take action against the players, but the bigger problem now is to make a decent complement of players.

Desperate club officials took up four local players and sent them to Calcutta for registration. The players returned Sunday morning and officials are now sitting, finger-crossed for their acceptance here. Not a very good meal for East Bengal.

Bhowmick also said he was keen on Eastern Railway goalkeeper Kaushik Paul. “He was just excellent. Not that I can decide from one match, but may be he could be worth a try”, the East Bengal coach added.

Meanwhile, the Siliguri Municipal Corporation will felicitate East Bengal for being ASEAN champions.

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