| OKORO: Player of the Tournament
New Delhi: Till Mike Okoro opened the scoreline in the 68th minute, Subhas Bhowmick was on his feet, shouting instructions, gesticulating and urging his players on. He seemed visibly relaxed after Okoro’s strike but after Kulothungan’s stunning second goal, the furrows on his brow were replaced with a warm smile and he even sat down.
Bhowmick knew he had sealed the title with a depleted side (without eight first XI players). Not since Mohun Bagan in 1984 has any team won the Durand title with such a depleted side.
Bhowmick’s musings were quite philosophical after the match. “Nothing succeeds like success,” he said.
“I hope this Durand title will lead to many more trophies. Success is an attitude of mind and I hope my players have acquired it.”
Bhowmick was full of praise for Tushar Rakshit and explained why he brought him midway through the second half.
“Tushar was my saviour. When I thought it was the right time, I brought him on and he delivered.”
“As a player it took me much longer to win the Durand but, as coach, I won in my second attempt. Victory is always sweet.”
Bhowmick also lauded Army XI’s efforts.
“They drew with Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) Bangalore (2-2), beat Vasco 1-0 and Mohammedan Sporting in the semi-finals. They cannot be considered a weak team.”
Bhowmick was bitter about the scheduling of the IFA Shield just after the Durand Trophy. He said: “How can one team play eight matches within 14 days. It is ridiculous,” he said.
Mike Okoro, the Pepsi Man of the Tournament said, “it is great being the best player of the tournament but my main aim is to win the National League.”
He also informed that he will be leaving for Poland tonight to acquire citizenship of that country and will re-join the team on January 16.
A jubilant but quiet Tushar said, “it is great that after a long time our team could win a trophy outside Bengal, especially with a depleted side (East Bengal last won the Durand tournament in 1995).”
Army XI’s manager Lt. Col. Adip Mazumdar said, “East Bengal were the better side today and fully deserved to win.
n Match report on Page 20