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Colaco calls for patience

Leo Bertos and Ranty Martins during practice, on Friday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Armando Colaco said East Bengal would start as underdogs against Mohun Bagan on Sunday. “We are yet to get our rhythm, We are not playing that well… Right now Mohammedan Sporting are playing best football, followed by Tollygunge Agragami and Mohun Bagan,” Armando said during a media conference organised by the IFA, on Friday.

Besides Armando, East Bengal captain Harmanjyot Singh Khabra, Bagan coach Shankarlal Chakraborty, captain Shilton Paul, IFA secretary Utpal Ganguli and Ranen Banerjee, Deputy Commissioner (Traffic) Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate, were also present at the media conference.

Armando was candid and it was not any mind game. East Bengal’s performance, till now, has hardly been impressive. They lost to Mohammedan Sporting and then drew with Kalighat MS the other day. “The problem is with the shape… Once we concede a goal, everyone is trying to get a goal and the shape is going haywire. I am working on it. It will take some time.”

Armando also said that New Zealander Leo Bertos will deliver, but the fans will have to be patient. “You have to understand he is not used-to with playing in conditions like this. He is a world-class player… His movement off the ball is brilliant. That’s the hallmark of a good footballer. Once he adapts, he will be unstoppable.”

Armando hinted that certain off-the-field developments are also hampering East Bengal’s performance. “It’s working at the back of the mind.”

East Bengal captain Khabra appealed to the fans not to react violently if the result does not go their way. “In football, you may win, you may lose… At the end of the day, it’s just a game. I will appeal to the fans to take things sportingly. We will play the game in the right spirit and I will want the fans of both the clubs to follow that,” he added.

Khabra said he considered himself lucky to be the captain in the 150th Derby clash of the Calcutta Football League. “It’s a big thing… My name will be in history books,” he said smiling.

Mohun Bagan captain Shilton Paul though does not think East Bengal are the underdogs. “Oh, I do not think so… It’s a Derby… It’s a 50-50 match.”

Meanwhile, Ranen Banerjee requested the clubs that if it’s possible, the players should travel in their respective team buses. “That will help us provide better security to the players.”