The Telegraph
Sunday , April 20 , 2014
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Armando: Aiming to finish on a high

Calcutta: Despite all the problems they have encountered throughout this season, Kingfisher East Bengal haven’t given up on their bid to win the I-League.

Inconsistency and fitness issues have pegged them back time and again even during favourable situations. This is one of the reasons why East Bengal managed to win just one title — the Calcutta Football League — so far this season. Saturday’s 2-1 win over Pune FC in a crucial encounter does keep their hopes alive of winning the coveted I-League.

“I’m really proud of the way the boys played today,” coach Armando Colaco told The Telegraph from Pune. “It’s never easy to turn things around when you are trailing, especially in an away match… And my boys did exactly that. Hats off to them…”

Moving up to the second position, East Bengal now trail toppers Bengaluru FC by just one point. They have just one game in hand though, while Bengaluru FC have two. But what favours the red-and-gold brigade is the fact that Ashley Westwood’s men will have to play both their matches away from home against tough opponents in Dempo SC and Sporting Clube de Goa.

East Bengal will only regret not being able to beat a lowly-placed Churchill Brothers in their previous outing, despite getting quite a few chances. Colaco, however, doesn’t want to delve deep into the present scenario.

“I’m not thinking of Bengaluru FC or by how may points we are still behind them. We had a difficult game today and did a good job to emerge winners. Players are giving their best and deserved to win.

“At the same time, they are aware that the job isn’t over yet. We are all looking forward to finishing on a high,” Colaco said.

Edeh Chidi and Seiminlen Doungel helped East Bengal secure full points from this crunch tie. But another architect of this victory was Ryuji Sueoka, who came up with assists during both the goals. Overall, the Japanese medio had a fantastic game.

“Look, we had to do it today since it was a must-win game for us. Being a senior pro of the side, it was important for me to perform. It’s always nice to contribute to the team’s success.

“We trail Bengaluru FC by just one point at the moment and still have a game in hand. They might have two, but I feel we should think positive from hereon,” Sueoka emphasised.

Kudos need to be given to Colaco as well as he never got bogged down with the problems. On very few occasions did he get the full strength team at his disposal. Yet, with his tactical acumen and motivation, he managed to inspire the team to come this far.

“We would like to extend Armando’s contract for another season if he agrees to stay back,” said East Bengal football secretary Santosh Bhattacharya.

There are also talks about East Bengal negotiating with star striker Ranty Martins. According to sources, there are high chances of Ranty donning the red-and-gold colours in the 2014-15 season.

“Neither we nor Ranty have finalised anything. The matter will proceed only after our last I-League match on the 28 th (of this month),” Bhattacharya remarked.