| Bhaichung Bhutia during the match against Air India at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday. Picture by Gautam Bose
Calcutta: If East Bengalís last win against Fransa Pax left a long lasting impression on their supporters, Sundayís barren draw with Air India in the 10th National Football League match for the ONGC Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium marred that impression and left fans in utter dismay and disgust.
East Bengal upfront with Bhaichung and Okoro failed to convert any of the five to six chances that they created. The red and gold brigade got the first chance in the 10th minute. Ndem advancing from the left flank and gave a cross to an unmarked Okoro in the box but the latter messed it up.
Five minutes later, the red and gold brigade got another chance but this time it was captain Bhaichung who failed to deliver.
In the 33rd minute Okoro was replaced by Bernard Pires. It was visible right from the start that the striker was not fully fit and he had to be called off due to a hamstring injury, which was a matter of displeasure for the coach Phillipe de Ridder.
In the post-match press conference, the Belgian said that he was not aware of Okoroís injury. Ridder also made it clear that he would look into the matter and see why he wasnít informed by Okoro about the injury.
With this draw, East Bengal are now on nine points from five matches, while Air India have four from as many games.
East Bengal: Naseem Akhtar, Anupam Sarkar, Covan Lawrence, Marshall, Saumik Dey (Sasthi Duley 75), Shylo Malsawntluanga, Jayanta Sen, Guy Endem, Syed Rahim Nabi, Mike Okoro (Bernard Pires 33, Kulothungan 58), Bhaichung Bhutia.
Air India: Sunder Rajan, Napolean Singh, Suley Musah, A.K. Martins, Benoy Kuruvilla, Santosh Koli, Soccor Velho (Suprith Jathamma 81), Vijith Shetty, Hringsolal Thomte (Noel Fernandes 88), Paresh Shivalkar (Sumit Thapa 90+), Bashiru Abass.
Referee: Syed Sujauddin (Jharkhand).