January 24, 2009 2:28:22 am
Its show time and the pressure is on Subhas Bhowmick. East Bengals newly-appointed coach is the centre of attraction as his team take on Chirag United in the I-League return leg match at Yuba Bharati Krirangan (YBK) tomorrow. The return of the prodigal has brought in a new lease of life in the red-and-gold camp. Bhowmick,however,appears to be cool as cucumber.
The match has been billed as a battle between Kolkata Maidans two most exciting personalities Bhowmick versus Chirag coach Subrata Bhattacharya. Both have their tasks cut out.
East Bengal are not yet sure if they can get the service of Yusif Yakubu. The Ghanaian striker is still recovering from his hamstring injury and appears to be a doubtful starter. His compatriots,Suley Musah and Ishmael Ado too are uncertain. Bhowmick kept his cards close when asked about the playing XI.
We will decide tomorrow morning, he said. It is,however,learnt that Musah and Yakubu are likely to play.
In the first leg,East Bengal thrashed Chirag 3-1 with Sunil Chhetri playing a huge role in that victory. With Coventry City calling,it remains to be seen if Chhetri can fully focus on tomorrows match.
East Bengal lost plot midway into the first phase. It saw Stanley Rozario gets the boot and in came Bhowmick. But a senior player probably hit the nail on the head when he said that it was impossible to make a radical overhaul in just 21 days. He (Bhowmick) is a very good motivator. The players are more upbeat now. Thats the only change, he said on condition of anonymity.
Chirag,on the other hand,will be crippled by the absence of their no. 1 marksman Muritala Ali,out suspended. Left winger Snehashis Chakrabarty,who had an outstanding first phase,is out as well owing to a hamstring injury. In fact,he wont be available for next two weeks. So,after a long time,veteran midfielder Sasthi Duley might get a look in. He (Duley) is in pretty good shape. With two front-line players missing,our idea is to play for a draw, Bhattacharya said.
East Bengal and Chirag,both have 12 points but the red-and-golds are placed seventh,while Chirag are placed ninth on the basis of goal average.
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