|Kingfisher East Bengal’s Manandeep Singh celebrates his goal with Edeh Chidi during
the Federation Cup final against Dempo, in Siliguri, on Sunday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Siliguri: East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan hailed his team’s fighting spirit on Sunday. Basking in glory after regaining the Federation Cup, here at the Kanchenjungha Stadium, Morgan said his team showed great character against a team of Dempo’s stature.
“We did a great job today. It’s a perfect birthday gift for me. The boys did not let the fans down. This win is memorable because it has come on my birthday. We will celebrate this win in a royal style,” Morgan said.
Morgan though rated the 2010 Federation Cup triumph against Mohun Bagan in Cuttack as special. “That was special. Because it was my first title as East Bengal coach.”
There was a lot of apprehension about how the new central defenders — Arnab Mondal and Raju Gaekwad — perform in such an important match. “They did exceptionally well today. There was this apprehension that they would not be able to perform. But I had complete faith in them,” Morgan said. For the record, regular central defenders Uga Okpara and Gurwinder Singh missed the final due to suspension.
Arnab was over the moon. “I think I have silenced my critics. Too many people said too many things about my performance against Kalighat MS. But today I defended well and also scored a goal. What else do you want?”
Arnab thanked Morgan for having confidence in him. “I am learning a lot under his coaching. He is a player’s coach. Always there to help me. I am lucky that I have got a coach like him,” he said.
Edeh Chidi also was in a mood to talk. He got his fifth goal of the tournament on Sunday to emerge as the highest scorer. “I am happy. Just look at the crowd… It means a lot to me. Many people had written me off. They put a sell-by-date on me. But here I am … alive and scoring.”
The Nigerian rated his goal against Sporting Clube de Goa as his best of the five. “Oh that was quite a goal.” Chidi had scored from a brilliant 19-yard free-kick even though the red and gold brigade had to share a point with the Goan team.
Chidi however made a plea. “Please do not compare me with Tolgay Ozebe. He has his own style and I have my own. It’s not fair on me to be compared with Tolgay all the time,” he said.
When Chidi was talking, Manandeep was all ears. When asked about his feelings, Manandeep said he never expected to play a match infront of a packed house. “I was a bit nervous. In Air India we never played infront of such a crowd. But that’s the reason I chose East Bengal. This mood. It’s electric,” Manandeep said.
Mehtab Hossain, who wore the armband as Sanju Pradhan did not get a start, said that the criticism the team faced after the Kalighat match spurred them on. “We have proved a point, to everyone. We really played well today. We created so many chances. Dempo did not have any answer today.”
For Abhijit Mondal, the East Bengal goalkeeper, Sunday’s win was a relief from a burden . “There was this feeling that I cannot play under pressure. I think today’s match showed I do not wilt. It was a very weird feeling winning a final against a club I have played for many years.”