| Stephen Constantine inspects Jo Paul Ancheri’s injury at the SAI Eastern Centre on Friday. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta: The impasse over East Bengal players’ release for the ongoing national camp deepened on Friday with the meeting between Indian coach Stephen Constantine and his counterpart in the city club, Subhas Bhowmick, failing to throw up any solution.
The meeting followed the AIFF’s move requesting East Bengal club to sort out the matter with the national coach. But Constantine was learnt to have told Bhowmick that he didn’t want to see himself as a party to the issue and subsequently lobbed the ball into the AIFF’s courts.
“This is entirely a matter between the AIFF and East Bengal. But as a coach, I like to have my players as quickly as possible,” he told reporters after morning practice Friday.
“Following our letter to the federation, we were informed today that we should call on the chief coach and settle the matter with him amicably,” East Bengal club secretary Kalyan Majumdar said.
“Our coach met Constantine, but there was no breakthrough. As it stands now, we’ll release the players only for the medical before Wednesday,” he added.
The medical examinations of the ongoing camp for the upcoming LG Cup in Vietnam and the World Cup qualifier versus Japan at home, are slated for Sunday and Monday.
East Bengal refused to release their players, citing they need them to sweat out under British physical trainer Peter McKnight till his contract with the club expires on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, under-pressure Constantine said his focus was firmly on the September 8 tie against Zico’s boys.
As the first session of the Indian probables formally kicked off at the SAI Eastern Centre on Friday morning, Constantine revealed pressure was part of his job but he’s confident it would a “different” India against the Asian Cup champions on the home turf and repetition of 0-7 humiliation in the away clash was unlikely here. “I’ll use the LG Cup to prepare my team for the Japan tie, since my primary focus will be on it,” he said. For him, there is hope in the form of home advantage.
“Players are familiar with the ground (Salt Lake Stadium will host the match). Hopefully, we’ll be able to improve on that result (0-7) and put up a better show,” Constantine said.
He reiterated the scoreline hardly reflected India’s fight against the Japanese and instead admitted that the home match against Oman (which India lost 0-5) was worse.
Constantine lauded East Bengal defender Dipak Mondal’s performance in the recent Leicester City-organised tournament. “I’d heard he was outstanding there. Had he six inches more in height, he could’ve easily played in Europe or any top Asian club.”