Calcutta, Jan. 4: The tug-of-war between East Bengal and the national football authorities over the club’s defender, Arun Malhotra, seems to have ended.
Speaking after Saturday evening’s session at the SAFF Cup camp, India coach Stephen Constantine made it clear that neither Malhotra nor Salgaocar’s Covan Lawrence would be included “at this stage”.
The duo was called as cover after injuries to Mahesh Gawli and Dipak Mondal but East Bengal, already depleted at the Durand Cup — with six of their players in the camp — declined to part with Malhotra before Saturday’s match with Air India.
The reason for Lawrence’s non-appearance is not known yet.
Talking about his decision not to take in any more players, Constantine said: “It would be unfair on everybody to have them join now…on the clubs, the coaches and those at the camp. I can understand how the club coaches, who have already planned with a particular player in mind, will feel if they are suddenly asked to part with them.”
He lamented the tendency to put club before country and said: “Though the Durand for example is a 100-year old tournament, an Indian win at an international meet will be recognised more than a win at one of these mickey-mouse tournaments.”
Constantine’s vexation with injuries continued with R.C. Prakash and Sandip Nandy colliding with each other in the morning and ruling themselves out for “a day or day-and-a-half”.
East Bengal, meanwhile, have said they are yet to hear anything about Malhotra’s release from the AIFF, adds A Correspondent from New Delhi. They confirmed the player will not be released as the team needs defenders.