| Barreto: Optimistic
Calcutta: Mohun Bagan’s star forward Jose Ramirez Barreto believes his team has got over the pain of losing to arch-rivals East Bengal in their crucial National Football League match and that the defending champions will bounce back when the league resumes after a month-long hibernation in February.
“Everybody in the team was very upset after the loss. It appeared for a moment as if it was the end of life. But we have gradually regrouped and in a marathon league, we should always expect the unexpected to take place,” the Brazilian said after practice on Monday.
Barreto also felt this edition of the NFL looked “quite open” from the beginning and the chances of the city giants would be determined by how they would perform against the Goa-based teams.
“Teams from Goa throw up the real challenge to us and we are happy with the way we had played against them,” he said.
Mohun Bagan drew with Vasco SC 1-1 before edging past Churchill Brothers 3-2 in Goa and in both games, Barreto led the green-and-maroon’s charge. Current leaders East Bengal, on the other hand, were forced to settle for 1-1 truce with Vasco in their lone match in Goa.
Incidentally, East Bengal got off to a dream start, garnering 16 points from six matches at home, but failed to repeat the show while playing away, drawing with Vasco and with Indian Bank (3-3) in Chennai. Bagan have so far garnered 12 from seven matches and a win against Tollygunge Agragami on Thursday will have them breathing down their arch-rivals’ necks.
However, coach Subrata Bhattacharya did not seem too excited about the sudden opening up of the league. “It’s too early to say anything. Unless you play well, there’s no point of talking about such openings,” he remarked.
His words were, in effect, meant to be an allusion to his growing disenchantment with some of his players. For instance, defender Palash Karmakar.
“Palash told me he had torn a ligament and consequently I rested him in the match (against ITI). Now he showed up for the practice today, which means he was not aware of the seriousness of his injury,” he observed.
Bhattacharya also lamented the Maidan players’ unwillingness to to take risks. “Most local players are too afraid to take risks. But the inspiration is in front of them. They should take lessons from Barreto’s involvement in a game,” he said.