|East Bengal’s Harmanjyot Singh Khabra and Ranty Martins, during a training session, on Tuesday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: Once ‘beaten’ twice shy…
Stung by the 0-1 loss to Mohammedan Sporting in the Calcutta Football League championship round opener, East Bengal coach Armando Colaco would be reverting to his tried and tested players against Police Athletic Club at the club ground, on Wednesday.
“Another loss or a draw will dent our confidence severely. So in the CFL match against Police AC, I will field an experienced team,” Armando said after a practice session, at the club ground, on Tuesday.
That means for juniors like Jiten Murmu, Deepak Tirkey and Manas Sarkar it’s back to their usual place… the reserve bench.
Colaco, though, said he would continue to field the juniors and they should not feel disheartened. “It’s not end of the road. Youngsters will get their chance… But it’s a long process… They will take time to fire… But they are exciting prospects,” Colaco said.
East Bengal, on Wednesday, will go full strength. Deepak Mondal, Raju Gaekwad, Robert Lalthlamuana, Harmanjyot Singh Khabra, Cavin Lobo, Joaquim Abranches and Baljit Singh Sahni will be starting, while Ranty Martins, who was doubtful after aggravating his ankle injury, is also likely to be in the starting XI.
Ranty had a full practice session on Tuesday, but Armando said he would take call only after consulting the team doctor. “Ranty told me he is fit for the match. But I cannot take any chance with him… I will take a call on Wednesday morning,” he said.
Colaco also did not seem too happy with the condition of the East Bengal ground. “The ground is too hard. I have asked the groundsmen to water it down on Wednesday morning. Let me see how it goes against Police AC. If things do not change, I will ask the officials to shift our match either in Kalyani or Barasat.”
Across the road, Police AC are dreaming of winning the CFL title. “Why not? Why should we not dream big? East Bengal can be a big team, but we are no pushovers,” coach Chima Okerie, who played some memorable matches in East Bengal colours, said after a practice session at the Police ground.
“We will not bow down without a fight,” he said.