The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stalwarts’ kudos for Bhowmick

Calcutta: East Bengal’s stalwarts of yesteryear shower kudos on the initiative and effort shown by coach Subhas Bhowmick in the club’s elevation to the final of the inaugural ASEAN Club Championship, even if they believe the standard of soccer on display was somewhat unimpressive.

It was also the general feeling that the achievement of the club will do wonders for the general image of the sport in the country. Also noticed were the facts that the team is rather fit, and that the combination has developed to such an great extent that teamwork is excellent. They talked about correct “procedure” in development and an organisational framework that can act as a model for all “pro teams”.

Shyam Thapa believes though this tournament isn’t particularly a strong one — “look, the national teams of these countries are weaker now than they were in our times, so are the clubs of those countries,” he says — he believes that Bhowmick has shown the way of “how to”. “East Bengal have always created history, this is another, but I believe as a team which is probably stronger than our national team, this was expected.” He also said it was great that even the reserve bench was strong.

Mohammed Habeeb, another stalwart, made a very pertinent point, when he said that Bhowmick proved that even Indian coaches could deliver, and that the AIFF’s penchant for foreign coaches wasn’t really all that hot.

Surojit Sengupta believes that the result was a combination of a whole lot of things, including trainer Kevin Jackson (“who acted as a catalyst”), coach Bhowmick’s methods, the club officials’ involvement and more. “It was an organisational effort,” he said.

He said it was great that the team has been around for a long time (“and adding to that were Bhaichung Bhutia and Mahesh Gawli”) and an “excellent rapport has grown”. “Take a couple of occasions,” he said. “When Debjit was injured, the entire team landed in the hospital, and then, today when Shylo Malsawmtluanga missed the penalty, all from Suley Musah and most in the team went and consoled him.

“These are things that a team grows and feeds on in a match. That is very noticeable,” said the former star dribbler.

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