| Bhaichung Bhutia and Shylo Malsawmtluanga sit dejected after the Durand Cup final
New Delhi: An elated Salgaocar goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar took a dig at national coach Stephen Constantine, whilst being lifted sky-high by his jubilant teammates after Monday’s Durand Cup final.
“I don’t know why I have been dropped from the national team. I am playing at my best at the moment.” Later, he said: “This is the second best moment of my life. The best was when we won the LG Cup in Vietnam.” This is the second time Rajat has won the Durand Cup after the triumph with Mohun Bagan in 2000.
“I left Calcutta to continue my career and I am grateful to Salgaocar for giving me a chance and I am glad I could repay them.”
India midfielder Jatin Bisht, who shot over the third try for Salgaocar in the tie-breaker, said: “When I missed I was jittery and felt we would lose. But I had confidence in Rajat and felt that my teammates would score and make up for my loss. Luckily everything went fine.”
Salgaocar coach Savio Madeira said: “When Bisht missed, my hopes sunk and I said a quiet prayer.” Talking about his plan, Savio said: “Our aim was to block East Bengal’s thrust from the flanks. We did that, preventing attacks from either their wingers or their wing-backs.”
Commenting on the match, Madeira said it was an open game. “East Bengal had the better chances but we held on and our plan clicked. Our midfield worked tirelessly and full marks must go to them for our success.”
Livid at the missed opportunities by his strikers, East Bengal coach Subash Bhowmick said: “We did everything right but score. You cannot win matches if you do not score.”
He was criticised by some for listing Bhaichung Bhutia among the five shooters in the tie-breaker as the Indian skipper had missed a penalty in the Super League final play-off against Mohun Bagan. He retorted: “Senior players have to take responsibility.”
Talking about his plan, Bhowmick said: “All my plans worked. I used Debjit (Ghosh) as sweeper for the first time and he played well. Suley Musah and Sasthi Duley did their job as markers. We prevented Salgaocar from taking any serious tries at our goal and curbed their mobility in midfield.
“The only thing that we did not do properly was converting our chances. Overall I am happy with my team’s performance. We did everything right, played according to plan, but did not convert the easy chances we got.”
Commenting on the free-kick conceded, Bhowmick said: “It was a lack of concentration on part of Sur Kumar. He had two opportunities to clear the ball and needlessly fouled an opponent.
“The referee denied us a penalty, early in the match. Had we scored then, we would have won easily. In fact Rajat should have been shown the red card for bringing down Okoro in the box just as he was about to score. This was the turning point of the match.”