Calcutta/ New Delhi: Bengal, the champions of 31 times, failed to make the semi-finals of the Santosh Trophy. If that’s bad, what’s worse is the fact that their captain Dipendu Biswas believes that even if they had made the semis, chances of progressing were not very bright.
Why? Here’s what Dipendu had to say: “Too many matches in too few days… It’s almost inhuman. Most of our players were playing in the CFL before they came on board for Santosh Trophy. You can’t win matches with tired legs. I wouldn’t say we didn’t play well… Rather, I would say we did well.
“But the question is for how long? To be honest, I feel that even if we had qualified for semis, it would have been very difficult to win. The boys were tired… At some point they would have given in. Nowadays, the tournament is organised just for the sake of organising,” Dipendu told The Telegraph.
Manoranjan Bhattacharya, the coach of the Bengal team, too pointed out the fatigue factor. “My boys were busy playing CFL… So they were obviously tired,” he said.
Not as an excuse for Bengal’s flop show, but the AIFF’s poor planning and lack of vision is evident. They definitely need to find a better window for the Santosh Trophy — the only football tournament that connects the entire nation.
Though Dipendu and Manoranjan didn’t find any fault with the IFA, some former footballers (and Santosh Trophy winners) felt other wise.
Subhas Bhowmick, who currently coaches Churchill Brothers, said: “So poor and neglected Bengal football has become these days that not one serious academy is running in the state. Unless a serious drive is made to produce players from grass root, results would continue to be disappointing.”
Subrata Bhattacharya, too, pointed out lack of planning on the IFA’s part.
“Without a proper plan, nothing can be achieved. Sorry to say, IFA had no plan this time. The coach should have been given at least two months to build a side. He hardly had any time and went with a disjointed lot.”
Tanumoy Basu, a three-time Santosh winner, echoed the others as he said: “Preparations were inadequate. The boys could not play together for a long time. In modern football, combined play is the most important aspect.”
Aloke Mukherjee, Biswajit Bhattacharya…. The list goes on and on but the complaints remain the same.
When Dipendu was asked when was the last time he watched a properly organised Santosh Trophy, he said: “Well, that was more than a decade back.”
That sums up the scenario.