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Draw a fair result: Karim

Calcutta: East Bengal coach Armando Colaco said his team had a mountain to climb following the 1-1 draw against Mohun Bagan, in the I-League Derby at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Saturday.

“The scenario is very bad. Now we have a mountain to climb. And we do not have the ammunition. Most of the players feel tired in the second half because of poor fitness. You may find it repetitive but I cannot help it. Fitness is a big worry,” he said at the noisy post-match media conference.

Colaco said he would not castigate Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for the howler which allowed Bagan to restore parity. “Why should I? I should boost his morale. What about those brilliant saves he made today? Anyone can make a mistake. Manish (Bharghav) took that shot very intelligently. Also the turf’s condition is not good. So when the ball bounced in front of him, he found it difficult to gather it.”

Colaco also heaped praise on Joaquim Abranches. “Oh he was fantastic today. We were not getting quality crosses from the flanks all this while. But with Joaquim back in the mix, I think we should get some good deliveries,” he said. Colaco though was diplomatic when asked whether it was end of Lalrindika Ralte under him. “He is a quality player,” he said.

Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa said the draw was a fair result. “We played well. We were organised at the back and combined well. All the hard work of the past seven days paid off. Juniors like Ram Malik, Pritam Kotal, Manish Bharghav and Pankaj Maula all contributed. It’s a learning process for them,” he said.

Karim said his team was missing Okolie Odafa upfront. “(CS) Sabeeth and Christopher (Chizoba) played well. But as we have seen in the last 10 years, Odafa when in top condition has always been the deciding factor. Yes we are missing his presence upfront,” he said.