Calcutta: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Sunday hailed East Bengal’s success in the ASEAN Club Championship, saying it was a “spectacular” victory and the reward was richly deserved by the champions. And the club returned the compliment by offering him its life membership.
A self-proclaimed cricket buff, Bhattacharjee admitted he made a departure by taking time off his busy schedule to watch the final. “East Bengal have done a splendid job. I watched the final in full and my feeling was that a battle needed to be won like this,” he said, on the occasion of the state sports department’s felicitation of the city giants at Salt Lake Stadium.
Taking a cue from Bhattacharjee’s words, East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick revealed the chief minister’s congratulatory call prior to the final in Jakarta had acted as “a motivation” for his team.
Bhattacharjee later handed a silver plaque to the club president Pranab Dasgupta, while team captain Suley Musah received a huge football in red and gold colour from sports minister Subhas Chakraborty. Each member of the winning squad was also presented with bouquets and gifts. Brazilian Douglas da Silva, K. Kulothungan, Nigerian Mike Okoro and Sasthi Duley were absent at the function.
Chuni Goswami, who captained India to the Asian Games gold in Jakarta 41 years ago, described the repetition of history as “a much-needed shot in the arm for Indian football.”
“Success depends on planning and preparation, not always on signing a ‘big’ player. Kudos to East Bengal for taking care of such pre-tournament necessities before launching their campaign. This victory is, in fact, a blow to the lethargy existing in Indian football and administrators must wake up to the call.
Attributing the accomplishment to commitment to the job and proper planning, Bhowmick also made a bold call for all to make optimum use of the recent success for the game’s betterment as a whole.
“The ’62 win was actually the beginning of end for our football. The then administrators had thought everything could be achievable by dint of that success. We retreated while the rest of the world moved up banking on proper planning,” Bhowmick pointed out.
“India’s win in the six-nation meet in Vietnam and my own in Jakarta have made Indian football reach a crucial juncture. If we make the same mistake, we are destined to recede further. We must look forward to realise the beginning of a new chapter.”