Calcutta: What’s wrong with Kingfisher East Bengal?
That’s the question Armando Colaco was asked at the post-match media conference on Tuesday. And he was candid. “Even I do not know what’s wrong with this team.”
Actually, everything is wrong with East Bengal now. The goalless tie against Churchill Brothers, who are third from bottom presently, at the Salt Lake Stadium, drove home that point only. A team, which was supposed to run over every other opponent, is now stuttering with 19 points from 12 matches in the I-League.
There was no co-ordination amongst the players, hardly any penetration by the forwards and complete lack of ideas. East Bengal need to buck up fast if they harbour any hopes of regaining the National League after 10 years.
Given the form they are in and the morale of this team, at present, it’s very unlikely that this team will hit back with a vengeance. Their next match is an away encounter against Dempo SC, on Sunday, and by Colaco’s own admission, it will be “goodbye and good luck” if they fail to log full points there.
If East Bengal were pathetic, Churchill were even worse. The team, which recently won the Federation Cup playing fantastic football, looked like as if they were playing for the first time in life.
Take this… Churchill Brothers have just one shot at the rival goal in the entire 90 minutes! Their midfield was nowhere and they were lucky that their opponent was East Bengal and not a Bengaluru FC or a Pune FC.
There was also one Lalit Thapa under the bar who bailed out the defending champions. Thapa was simply outstanding on Tuesday and made some good saves. He was also helped by the James Mogas, Edeh Chidis, Lalrindika Raltes and Shylo ‘Mama’ Malsawmtluangas, who bungled big time in front of the goal.
Moga and Chidi are in complete mess. They arrived late for the pre-season when Marcos Falopa was the coach and are now paying for that. In this age, pre-season is the most important part and the duo, along with Uga Okpara, did not take that seriously. The outcome is there to see.
While Moga looked out of sorts and whined continuously, Chidi looked disinterested. And Uga is still recuperating from a hamstring injury.
And talking about Ralte, Trevor James Morgan was right in using him sparingly, bringing him on as substitute. The Mizo boy might have scored some out-of-the-world goals, but at this point in time, he is playing atrocious football. Tuesday was no different, as Robert Lalthalmuana had to work overtime on the left flank.
However, the goal Malsawmtluanga missed was unpardonable. Chidi slipped one through for Malsawmtluanga with only Thapa to beat and the latter’s first touch was so hard that the ball went straight to the Churchill goalkeeper. A decade of football for big clubs and Malsawmtluanga still hasn’t improved his ‘first touch’.
East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Abhishek Das (Harmanjyot Singh Khabra, 51), Arnab Mondal, Gurwinder Singh, Robert Lalthalmuana, Shylo Malsawmtluanga, Ryuji Sueoka (Cavin Lobo, 87), Mehtab Hussain, Lalrindika Ralte (Seiminlen Doungel, 70), Edeh Chidi, James Moga.
Churchill Brothers: Lalit Thapa, Satish Singh, Sanjay Balmuchu, D. Ravanan, Y. Raju, Alesh Sawant (Saran Singh, 46), Abdelhamid Shabana, Lenny Rodrigues, Anthony Wolfe, Balwant Singh, Cristian Lagos (Bineesh Balan, 63).
Referee: Pratap Singh
MoM: Lalit Thapa