The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Okoro to bolster EB line-up
- Bhowmick not to risk ‘totally fit’ Debjit

Calcutta: East Bengal prepare for their hour of glory in an information wilderness. The India champions created a sensation in the quarter finals by defeating local heroes Persita Tangerang, but readying for their ASEAN club meet semi-final versus Petrokimia Putra Thursday, East Bengal find little by way of information.

The general feeling is that it would have been nice to have some first hand knowledge of a team that had come back from two goals in the red to beat a pretty tough-looking Singapore Armed Forces FC via the golden goal in the quarter finals.

The deficit that East Bengal will surely suffer from would be the absence of Debjit Ghosh, whose concussion and hospitalisation in the team’s last match was a major concern for all. Ghosh told The Telegraph over telephone from Jakarta Wednesday that he was “totally fit” and surely wanted to play. Coach Subhas Bhowmick did take the player to the field where the team practised, and that raised Ghosh’s hopes.

But Ghosh was not allowed to take the field and it’s unlikely he will even play the final, if East Bengal win Thursday.

Bhowmick said categorically that Ghosh is “out of Thursday’s XI for the semi-final”, and it is also learnt that he would not risk the career of a useful player just forcing him into the team.

Bhowmick would, of course, have the benefit of being able to use Mike Okoro in the semi-finals. Not only would the last-four stage allow the use of an extra foreigner in the teams, Okoro has now recovered from his injury and “he will be in my team tomorrow versus Putra,” said the coach.

What looks likely, thus, is that Okoro could start a little withdrawn, complementing, to an extent, Ghosh’s absence, as well as adding to the attacking pressure.

For Ghosh, though, it has been a tournament as exciting, as the ending has been sad. “I have no weakness any more,” he said. “I wanted to play, but when I accompanied the team to practise, my coach said I needn’t take part in practice,” he said.

Not that he remembers too much about what happened immediately after the accident, “but later I was all strapped down to bed and being administered saline. “Now all those things are off and I am only on certain medication, the combination of which I am not sure of,” said Ghosh.

The Calcutta giants would also want to use their other foreigners to best effect. Douglas da Silva has been growing in stature with each match and the half line and the attackers would be depending on his game-making.

Skipper Suley Musah, of course, will remain another pivot of the team, utilising his experience in the defence as well as in his overlaps. The attack line remains strong, with Bhaichung Bhutia in peak form. He is already the top-scorer with six goals and he can only go up from here.

Putra’s Danili Fernando netted their golden goal in the 113th minute in the quarter finals and credit to their half line that they were able to pull off a rather unlikely win. If anything, Bhowmick will have to look out for Putra’s fighting spirit.

Live telecast

Like the quarter final, it will be daytime match. DD Sports will telecast the semi-final live from 2 pm.

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