The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Team’s rhythm is back: Bhowmick
- Junior’s man-marking besides scoring against Geylang pleases East Bengal coach

Calcutta: Subhas Bhowmick is not jumping in joy at having opened the AFC Cup campaign with a creditable away win. But he is surely counting the positives from the 3-2 triumph over Geylang United FC in Singapore.

“The best thing is that the rhythm we had lost is back,” the East Bengal coach remarked on Thursday afternoon. “The boys showed the same flow, coordination and determination that made us a strong unit earlier in the season.”

The red-and-brigade contingent returned to the city past midnight on Wednesday. Within a few hours, nine of them — Bhaichung Bhutia, Sangram Mukherjee, Sandip Nandy, Mahesh Gawli, M. Suresh, Alvito D’Cunha, Debjit Ghosh, Dipak Mondal and Subhas Chakraborty — took a flight to Mumbai en route to Goa to join the national team.

India take on Singapore in a pre-World Cup game at Fatorda’s Nehru Stadium on Wednesday.

Bhowmick was happy to see his players carrying out most of his instructions on Tuesday night. He made special mention of Cristiano Junior, who was assigned to mark the tall Milan Blagojevic in the middle of the park.

“He (Junior) did a fine man-marking job besides carrying out his primary duty of scoring,” observed the coach. Junior hit a brace to take his tally for East Bengal to nine goals from as many games.

Bhowmick, though, didn’t want to compare Junior with any other foreign striker who has made a name playing club soccer in India. “I never make comparisons… I’ll just say that Junior was my choice and I’m not at all surprised at the way he has been performing.”

East Bengal’s next engagement in the AFC Cup is a home tie against Malaysia’s Negri Sembilan on February 25.

East Bengal’s preparation for that game begins on Friday itself. “I have asked all the players who are here to report for practice tomorrow morning… There’s enough time, I’ll start my homework on the Malaysians on Sunday,” said Bhowmick.

It will be after the Negri match that East Bengal launch the second phase of their National Football League (NFL) campaign, against Salgaocar at home on February 29. But the coach is not looking so far ahead.

“I don’t want to speculate about what may happen in the NFL, but I can tell you that if we play at 60 per cent of our Singapore level, we should do well rest of the season.”

IFA letter

Meanwhile, Bhowmick on Thursday got the IFA’s letter informing the coach of the two-year suspension — coming into effect on May 16.

“I’m sending a copy of the letter to the club for the officials’ perusal as per their request,” Bhowmick said, refusing to say whether he would appeal against the decision or move court.

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