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East Bengal to gamble on Okpara

Uga Okpara

Calcutta: East Bengal are not going overboard. Despite winning the Calcutta Football League (CFL) title for fourth consecutive year, they are not in the mood to celebrate. Instead, they are focussing on the tougher battles ahead.

East Bengal defender Arnab Mondal feels winning the CFL is no big deal.

“See, most of the clubs in the CFL doesn’t have quality players. This doesn’t mean that I am criticising the clubs. But when you compare them to the I-League clubs, the gulf in class is quite evident.

“Also the CFL clubs play matches once in two months. There is no continuity. With the future of the foreigners not secured, they often leave for better offers. So winning the title is no big issue,” said Arnab.

East Bengal captain Mehtab Hussain also shares a similar view. “I do believe that a win is a win. When you become champions of a league, it definitely boosts up your morale. But we cannot go on celebrating our win.

“We must prepare ourselves for the Federation Cup and I-League. In fact, our main focus should be I-League since it has been 10 years that we became national champions,” said Mehtab, who injured his knee during the I-League Derby on November 24.

East Bengal will also miss Arnab in their first match, against Rangdajied United FC. He has to turn out for his office outfit on January 15.

East Bengal, however, got a shot in their arm with Uga Okpara being deemed fit for the Federation Cup.

“We wanted him in the squad… He may not be fit for the first match. But we are hoping that he will attain match fitness as the tournament progresses,” said Colaco.

While East Bengal are planning to win the Federation Cup, their immediate focus is to win the CFL Derby on Saturday.

“The CFL title will taste sweeter if we defeat Mohun Bagan. A Derby is a different ballgame. Winning the Derby will give us a lot of confidence going into the Federation Cup. We will give our best,” said Arnab.