The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bhaichung Bhutia critical of Durand organisers

New Delhi: Indian football captain Bhaichung Bhutia has criticised Durand Cup organisers for the tight schedule and said there is no point in having the tournament just for the sake of it.

“It is the second oldest tournament in the world, so it should be organised in a better way. It should be more lengthy and more organised. It has to have some interest. There is no use organising it just for the sake of it,” he said on Wednesday.

The 12-team Durand Cup has 15 matches spread over ten days.

The star player was also critical of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) calendar which forces players to play almost continuously.

Bhutia played the Afro-Asian Games final in Hyderabad on Friday, turned out for East Bengal in Sunday’s Calcutta League title-decider and played his team’s first Durand match here on Tuesday.

The striker added that Durand organisers are not taking good care of the players. “They should provide proper infrastructure and facilities for practice and also proper transport for teams.”

Bhutia said the Indian Army, which conducts the tournament, should work closely with the AIFF to organise the tournament in a better way.

East Bengal’s must-win match

A Correspondent adds: To overcome fatigue and stiffness, East Bengal had a relaxing day on the eve of their crucial Durand Cup league tie with Dempo of Goa. Instead of usual morning practice, they spent an hour in the swimming pool at National Stadium.

In the afternoon, their kit sponsors Reebok whisked them off to Gurgaon to be guests of honour at the inauguration of a new outlet. Talking about the must-win tie against Dempo, coach Subhas Bhowmick said his players are used to such situations.

“We are always under pressure to win every match,” Bhowmick said. The coach said his defenders have been cautioned to keep a close look on Dempo strikers Sunday Seah and R.C. Prakash.

East Bengal have to win to qualify for the last-four stage. Bhowmick’s game plan is that his team must score first so that they don’t come under pressure.

Midfielder Sasthi Duley, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, may play on Thursday. He missed the first match — the 3-2 win over Indian Bank.

Due to injuries, Bhowmick has limited options in defence. But he reiterated he will continue to experiment in the Durand Cup. With Bijen Singh injured, K. Kulothungan is likely to be tried out up front.

Alvito D’Cunha may be used as a central midfielder, supplying passes to strikers Bhutia and Mike Okoro. Bhowmick hopes that both Alvito and Okoro will fare better after disappointing in Tuesday’s match.

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