| Barreto feels Leonardo and Edu need 3-4 matches to adjust
Calcutta: Mohun Bagan fans are looking forward with hope, as are the players and coaches, ahead of their National Football League campaign that starts against Mohammedan Sporting here on Friday.
Little doubt, the arrival of two new Brazilian players — Edu and Leonardo — and the team’s inspired showing against East Bengal in the Super Division title-decider, have raised visions of a resurrection of sorts, after the dismal run last year.
Officials are keen to field the new imports from the first match itself, but the problem is, their international clearance is yet to arrive. “Their documents are yet to reach us. The procedure is, the papers come to me and I forward them to the clubs concerned,” said IFA secretary Subrata Dutta late on Tuesday evening.
If the papers don’t arrive on Wednesday, Edu and Leonardo can’t play in Friday’s game, since the players have to be registered with the state body at least 48 hours before a match. In that case, with the other Brazilian recruit Marcos Parreira not to be registered immediately, Mohun Bagan will have to go in with just one foreigner, Jose Ramirez Barreto, in Friday’s match.
“We are hoping to get the required documents on Wednesday morning,” said a Mohun Bagan official. On another front, club officials are yet to sort out their problems and the rival groups are trying to convince one and all that they will not be responsible if desired results are not achieved. The latest fracas is about organising funds for the new Brazilian pair.
Those assigned by the court-appointed Special Officers to look after football claimed on Tuesday they don’t have the required money yet, but are hopeful of getting it by Wednesday morning.
“A cheque for Rs 10 lakh has been released by sponsors McDowell’s which is lying with the club secretary (currently debarred by the court from running football affairs). He has to sign it and then only can we pay the Brazilian duo,” said the club treasurer. The secretary said he would consult experts before releasing the cheque.
However, coach Aloke Mukherjee and mainstay Barreto have both been impressed with the new arrivals. “Edu is a good striker and Leonardo a dependable central midfielder. We need somebody like him in midfield,” noted Barreto, who had not seen the new recruits in Brazil and doesn’t know which club they are from.
He said his fellow Brazilians will take three-four matches to adjust and reach peak condition. “We don’t need a Ronaldinho here. A player to do the job quietly is good enough for us,” said Barreto. According to him, even he needs a few matches to be fully fit after suffering an ankle injury.
Mohun Bagan are still keeping fingers crossed over Zimbabwean defender David, whose club Amazulu FC has demanded a steep transfer fee. “We spoke to him even today and he is keen to join us. But nothing his final as of now,” said an official. Parreira’s status will, thus, be determined by the progress Mohun Bagan make on the David front.
Adekunle out of favour
Mohammedan Sporting have not registered defender Habeeb Adekunle. This means the Nigerian will not be included in the team roster for the marathon league. Officials indicated that Adekunle will be formally released soon. The club is awaiting the clearance of another Nigerian defender and another fresh batch will arrive for trials on Sunday for the one remaining slot for foreigners.