The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 21 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Do-or-die tie for EB

- Mohun Bagan need only one point to advance

East Bengal’s Edeh Chidi (left) and James Moga

Calcutta: As coach, there simply cannot be any questions over Armando Colaco’s abilities and credentials. Strangely, as the Federation Cup gets underway, only disappointments and sorrows seem to follow Colaco with nothing falling into place.

The lone triumph in 2004, too, was about glory turning into disaster in a space of few hours. And on this occasion, being in charge of Kingfisher East Bengal, Colaco needs a huge amount of luck to see his team qualify for the semi-final berth. East Bengal must beat Bengaluru FC (BFC) by at least a two-goal margin in their last Group B tie, at the MDS Complex, in Manjeri, on Tuesday.

In a Group C match, an upbeat McDowell Mohun Bagan meet Salgaocar FC, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Kochi, in a bid to secure their semi-final spot. Bagan have won their two group stage matches, while Salgaocar won one and lost the other.

Colaco, of course, has every reason to feel upset. “Maybe I am a bad omen to East Bengal (in the Federation Cup), because when I got this trophy, remember Cristiano Junior had died. Thereafter, I never fared well in the Federation Cup.

“Maybe that omen continues… I’m sure the boys will give their best tomorrow to keep our team afloat,” he said on Monday.

As of now, Colaco and his men would only pray the Rangadjied United FC-Bengaluru FC clash ends in a draw. A win for any of the two teams would confirm East Bengal’s exit.

One major concern for East Bengal in this competition has been the fitness of some of their regulars, for instance fullback Uga Okpara. Colaco, however, believes failure to convert sitters has been the major reason that hurt East Bengal in the competition.

“We went wrong because we couldn’t convert chances. If you don’t score, you have to pay the price,” he lamented. “If you talk about fitness, Uga has some issues. But he has to play since I have to give him the confidence required to play a game,” he added.

James Moga, too, is under the scanner for not being able to perform against top sides. East Bengal will need him to fire if they are to keep even a semblance of chance alive.

“I feel he’s trying his best. We shouldn’t be too harsh on him. I’m sure he’ll get into his groove,” Colaco maintained.

Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, have fared well in the competition till now. Thrashing Lajong FC 6-0 has taken Bagan to an excellent position, as they just need one point against Salgaocar to confirm a place in the semis.

Importantly, Karim Bencharifa’s men are peaking at the right time, which keeps them in good stead not just in this tournament, but also in the remaining matches of the I-League.

At least in their two matches so far, Bagan have proved that they are just not about Okolie Odafe. Katsumi Yusa and Christopher Chizoba, too, are capable to step up and see their side through, overcoming all odds.

Katsumi, of late, has been a revelation, finally showcasing his talent and abilities as an attacking midfielder.

For Salgaocar, they have bounced back after the 0-4 reversal to Lajong in their opener. Coach Derrick Perreira would only hope his men continue with the good work against an in-form Bagan.

In another match of this group, Lajong face Mumbai FC in a must-win match.