The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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East Bengal leaving nothing to chance
Musah will replace Douglas

Calcutta, Sept. 6: The CFL Super Division championship is there for East Bengal’s taking. They have the bench-strength to sail through the home stretch and scotch Mohun Bagan’s hopes of forcing a play-off for the title. But Subhas Bhowmick is not taking anything for granted.

“We have a tough match coming up,” the coach said on the eve of East Bengal’s clash with a team (Mohammedan Sporting) they had thrashed 4-1 in the first phase. “They have been pushed to a corner and will try their hardest to salvage some pride. We have to be patient as they will, in all likelihood, be defensive to start with.”

Having drawn with Mohun Bagan the other day, East Bengal need to ensure they don’t drop more than two points in their remaining four games (including Sunday’s). Bhowmick refuses to be drawn into any such calculation and would rather win all those matches.

He was criticised in some quarters for not fielding Suley Musah against Mohun Bagan, but has been spared another sensitive selection problem following Douglas da Silva’s ill health. The Brazilian, down with high temperature, is ruled out for Sunday’s duel, and will be replaced in the starting XI by Musah.

The captain is expected to form a three-pronged forward line with Mike Okoro and Bijen Singh. The midfield will be manned by Malsawmtluanga, Dipankar Roy, Sur Kumar Singh and Debjit Ghosh’s replacement Chandan Das.

Replacing Dipak Mondal — who along with Debjit will have to sit out Sunday’s match after being red-carded two days ago — will be Subhashish Roy Chowdhury.

There is little spirit left in the Mohammedan Sporting camp after having been denied victory in their last six matches. “There is not much at stake, but we’ll have to try and end this barren run,” was all that coach Mohammed Habeeb would say after the morning practice session.

He added that as many as nine players in his team have some injury or the other and observed that he doesn’t have an enviable bench-strength like East Bengal’s.

Technical adviser P.K. Banerjee had two things to suggest to Dipendu Biswas & Co: get the basics right and concentrate hard.

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