Calcutta: Bhaichung Bhutia has a simple message for the East Bengal players on the eve of their crucial AFC Cup second leg semi-final against Kuwait SC — “Go out and enjoy the game. Do not think much about the result. Play your normal game.”
Bhutia said the players should not put unnecessary pressure on themselves. “If you think about the result, then it can have an adverse effect. I am telling this from my personal experience. On the eve of a match of this magnitude, it’s very important to stay relaxed,” Bhaichung told The Telegraph.
For someone who is Indian football’s “been there done that” man, Bhaichung said East Bengal have already done the country proud by playing in the semi-final of a tournament of AFC Cup’s stature.
“It’s a big achievement. They are reaping the benefits for all the good work over the last three years… I wish them all the best for tomorrow’s match.”
Bhaichung, however, will not be able to watch the match. Reason — he will be flying to Mumbai during the time Mehtab Hussain and Co. chase history.
“It’s sad. I will be flying. But one thing is for sure. The first thing I will do when I switch on my mobile phone is find out the result of the match.”
Bhaichung refused to compare the AFC Cup achievement with the 2003 Asean Cup triumph where he played a stellar role for the red and gold brigade. “I would not draw comparison. Asean Cup was won by a different set of players more than 10 years ago.
“The AFC Cup achievement is with another set of players. How can we compare? It will not be fair on both the teams. Asean Cup triumph was as important to the club as the playing in AFC Cup semi-finals.”
Talking about last Saturday’s motivational session where legends PK Banerjee, Amal Dutta, Syed Nayeemuddin, Arun Ghosh and the likes spoke to the players, Bhaichung did not mince words.
“These things do not help. I can understand how the players felt. To me, the one-minute pledge at the dressing room can do wonders to the morale of the team than any motivational session.
“I am lucky that the club did not call me. What can you gain from these things? I am never in favour of these sessions.”
East Bengal captain Mehtab, though, begs to differ. Mehtab, at the media conference, said he would draw inspiration from what the legends said on Saturday.
“I got goose bumps when Pradip Sir told us not to think ourselves weaker than Kuwait SC. These things will help to motivate myself,” he said.