The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tougher climb now: Bhowmick
- Bagan coach excited at play-off prospect

Calcutta: East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick had his emotions in check by the time he got down to meeting the media following his team’s 2-2 draw versus Ever-Ready in their crucial Super Division Championship Leg match at home.

It wasn’t just the draw, but the fact that it will be a tough line to tow now for East Bengal, that worries Bhowmick.

He attributed this poor show to a combination of “a coincidence” of all that is bad — “that ten per cent chance that we falter” — a dose of “complacency” and “two rather silly mistakes” by players who he said wouldn’t do it “in more than once in a hundred attempts”. This was one of those days, was how the coach wanted to sum up his team’s performance.

And he said they’ll have to “fight” now. “But it isn’t as if I haven’t seen anything like it before,” he said, wearing a weary smile, too. “Last year we were ahead nine points and then we were down, but we still won. So it isn’t as if this is the end of the road for us, it is just a tougher climb, much more work on our part.

“I believe, given a hundred chances, M. Suresh wouldn’t make such a hash of a clearance (ball taking shin bone and rolling out for the equaliser). This had to be his day. And Debjit isn’t ever to slow in reacting, and then we messed up our shooting. I will have to study this situation, and then decide on an approach route.

“I believe the loss to Mohammedan Sporting, more than the draw with Mohun Bagan, proved to be our dip point start. That was from where the pressure got us, and is still haunting us.”

Bhowmick said he will have to see what has got into Mike Okoro that isn’t allowing the player to keep to form.

Asit Ghosh, the acting Ever-Ready coach said he had a plan of holding the East Bengal attackers “in a box” and that this clicked today. “We have now taken points off all top teams. That is our satisfaction.”

Aloke looks ahead

Meanwhile, Aloke Mukherjee, the Mohun Bagan coach, is excitedly looking into the play-off scenario that has become so real after East Bengal’s draw with Ever-Ready Wednesday. Thursday, versus Tollygunge Agragami, he will try a free-Jose Ramirez Barreto effect.

This is a situation where he intends to field Marcos Parreira as the striker, and leave Barreto to decide where and when he wishes to be.

What Mukherjee is aiming at is an early goal in the match, finish off any hope that Tollygunge may have of shooting a surprise. That means the team could be geared up to a semi-defensive orientation thereafter.

Mukherjee will be missing Rishi Kapoor (fever) and Babun Kar (injury) Thursday.

Tollygunge will be missing their key man, Akeem Abolanle through double booking and Sujit Neogi and Sandip Das through injury.

That will give Mukherjee that extra advantage to push his team towards the title that was, till recently, way beyond reach.

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