| Churchill Brothers’ Aqueel Ansari in an aerial duel with East Bengal’s Suley Musah and Trijit Das during the IFA Shield final at Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta: He was not aware his moment of reckoning would come in such a dramatic way. But when goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee saved Tiken Singh’s shot in the sudden death, East Bengal coach made a gesture to Shasthi Duley. It was his turn now to settle the issue once and for all.
Following a goalless regulation and extra time, the penalty shoot-out was ended 4-4.
“I was totally unprepared. But the coach told me to get up and take the extra responsibility of winning the match for the team. I knew this was the moment of my life. Had I missed the shot I wouldn’t have pardoned myself throughout my life,” Duley said on Wednesday, soon after his successful conversion of that shot gave defending champions East Bengal a 5-4 win over Churchill Brothers of Goa in the tie-breaker.
“The coach spurred me on, talking about my experience. It was a great feeling when so much was depending on a shot and you are the person going out to take it. This is an unbelievable feeling,” he said.
For Bhowmick, it was a special moment. For the first time, he has won four titles in a season as a coach. “I’ve never imagined I would be able to claim this feat,” he told reporters after the match.
“There were a few hurdles, the gruelling demand of playing nine matches in 18 days. But in the end, all credit to my boys, because a coach contributes very little to a success.”
Bhowmick also felt that the IFA Shield win would put his regular players into a serious but healthy competition with the reserve bench. “I’ve won all the four trophies with my bench strength. All along I have been motivating these boys, saying not to lose heart and a chance would come. God has given me strength to develop my reserve bench. And in the end, they showed they were quite up to the mark when required. It’s now time for the so-called first-string players to fight for their place”.
Bhowmick pointed out that of the four, the Independence Cup win was most satisfying, while the Durand Cup title gave his team much-needed confidence.
Churchill Brothers’ coach Marcos Pacheco said: “My boys played quite well and it was our game. But the reality is we are yet to break the jinx (of winning a title in a national meet). He said poor refereeing was to blame for his team’s defeat. “So many decisions went against us. This was crazy.”
Captain Noel Wilson blasted the organisers for giving the Player of the Tournament award to Suley Musah. “I thoroughly deserved the prize, but the organisers were only interested in East Bengal players,” he said.