Calcutta: Had it been the I-League, and not the CFL, Sunday’s Kingfisher East Bengal vs United SC tie could easily have been termed as one of the big matches of the city. But with the United SC coach declaring (not for the first time though) that he is not interested in the CFL, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the game might be reduced to practice-match standards.
However, make no mistake, East Bengal will be very eager to win the match, for more than one reason.
First and foremost is of course the fact that they are just two wins away from the CFL title. A victory on Sunday and another in their next match, against Kalighat MS, will help them lift the crown even before the January 11 Derby against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan. The league title, which carries an emotional value for the fans, would no doubt inspire the coach and players to embark on their I-League campaign with fresh vigour.
Secondly, coach Armando Colaco would want his team to be in good rhythm in the lead-up to the Federation Cup. And victories are always the legs on which good rhythm can be gained.
So East Bengal have enough reasons to give their best on Sunday. The same, however, cannot be said about their opponents.
United SC coach Eelco Schattorie has always been vocal about the CFL, calling it a disturbance to any club which aspires to do well in the I-League. Plus, they have got no chance of winning the CFL either. And to top that, they have been plagued by the financial and injury issues all through the season. It’s quite logical then Schattorie wouldn’t want to take any risk with the Federation Cup being round the corner.
Speaking of problems, the coach added: “I don’t have Bello (Rasaq)… Eric (Brown) is injured… In fact, I don’t think Eric would be available for the first few matches of the Federation Cup as well. (Mohammed) Rafique will partner Ranty (Martins) up front while Sheikh Azim will be at the back with Hasan-al Moustapha.”
Colaco, on the other hand, is likely to play James Moga and Ryuji Sueoka as his two foreigners on Sunday. “All matches are important… The busy fixture and injuries are making things difficult for us. We have to convert the chances we get.
“Neither there will be any special plan for Ranty… nor am I bothered with East Bengal’s unimpressive record against United SC,” said a confident Colaco.