| Dipankar Roy, who scored four goals in East Bengal’s 9-0 thrashing of Wari AC, in the IFA Shield Group A match in Siliguri on Monday
|Bijen Singh slammed in two
Siliguri: It was a disgrace. The Chlor-Mint 109th IFA Shield Group A tie between East Bengal and Wari AC at the Kanchenjungha Stadium Monday was surely so. East Bengal sleepwalked to a 9-0 thrashing of a team that never deserved to be here in the first place.
Dipankar Roy returned to form with four goals, though he missed a hattrick, and Bijen Singh scored two. Douglas da Silva, K. Kulothungan and Shylo Malsawmtluanga scored the others in a match that the Calcutta giants could have won by a dozen.
These are the types of matchups that cause the interest graph for soccer to dip quickly. It was evident in the near-empty stadium and from catcalls from those present. The local organisers should have demanded a tougher group, even if East Bengal were not around, and neither did they or the teams deserved the poor quality of refereeing that was in the matches of the group here.
In the semi-final Thursday East Bengal take on Ever-Ready, the winners of Group C.
If coach Subhas Bhowmick had even an iota of doubt over the outcome of Monday’s match, it was quickly cleared, watching the tottering steps that the Wari players came onto the field on. The makeshift nature of the team was clear (a five-man bench strength) when it showed zero cohesion. Sometimes there were seven-eight in the defence, sometimes just one, except for the goalkeeper. Maybe they really thought they could go out and show the ASEAN Club champions a thing or two of soccer.
The mistake was pointed out at great cost.
It started in the eighth minute. Bijen was up the right, pushing up to Malsawmtluanga who centred to the goalmouth for Dipankar to tap in easily. Dipankar made a mess of a fine opportunity in the 21st minute, but a minute later it was Bijen making up for it. He took the initiative from Suley Musah and sidestepped a diving goalkeeper Dipankar Debnath to tap in from close.
Five minutes later Bijen again sprinted into the box, outrunning a weak charge from Wari’s Surajit Biswas. A centre to Dipankar, who did the rest for the third goal.
It was like watching a terminal patient, the will to live slowly seeping out. Wari was collapsing into itself and East Bengal seemed the only team on the field. There was no time to yawn, lest you miss a goal. It came, again, in the 35th minute, when Dipankar, on the left, collected one off a defensive lapse, and placed in smoothly past two defenders and the goalkeeper.
The fifth came four minutes later when Malsawmtluanga ran straight into the attacking third, passing to Bijen, who quickly placed past the advancing goalkeeper. It spoiled Dipankar’s hattrick chances, though. Dipankar was not to be put down. He came back in the 42nd minute, off another defensive lapse (of which there were too many to enumerate) and it was a half dozen.
Kulothungan was introduced after the break and scored immediately coming in from the right to collect and then jump over a diving goalkeeper to score.
Perhaps the effort of scoring so many got the team a bit tired. Douglas had moved into defence when Sujoy Dutta replaced Debjit Ghosh, but he too had his share of glory, driving home a fine, low yet swerving free-kick through the ‘wall’ in the 75th minute.
Also rewarded was Malsawmtluanga, in an especially fine 81st-minute goal. He ran up the right, and with substitute goalkeeper Mahesh Singh approaching, chipped on the run, over him and into goal.
Coach Subhas Bhowmick later said he was at least happy the team’s scoring focus was back. “It doesn’t matter which team we played. Even versus Eastern Railway we could have won by six goals had we been able to convert. But today I saw the scoring ability was on its way back,” he said. He said he was also happy that Dipankar was back in form.
He said he proved that on a good surface his team was a fine one. “You need a good surface. With the sun out it was a good turf here today, better than Calcutta grounds, and see how we have delivered.”
East Bengal: Sangram Mukherjee; Surya Bikash Chakraborty, Debjit Ghosh (Sujoy Dutta, 52), Dipak Mondal, Subhasis Roy Chowdhury, Sasthi Duley, Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Douglas da Silva, Suley Musah (K. Kulothungan, 46), Dipankar Roy, Bijen Singh (Raman Vijayan, 43).
Wari AC: Dipankar Debnath (Mahesh Singh, 48); Surajit Biswas, Indrajit Dey, Himadri Chakraborty, Suresh Kaibortya, Subhasis Banerjee, Mantu Pandey, Goutam Chakraborty (Jahan Mehta, 44), Bapi Halder (Ujjal Majhi, 15), Shyamal Paul, Anirban Sengupta.
Referee: Jayanta Chakraborty