Kolkata: It’s amazing how things change with time. It was just a few days ago that the fans had gathered in numbers at the East Bengal club and were cheering for the players to get their hands on the elusive I-League this time. However, the club now has resorted to use police protection to assure the security of the coach and officials after a heartbreaking loss in the derby and an unlikely draw against table-toppers Minerva Punjab, which have virtually thrown East Bengal out of the title race.
The East Bengal club, on Wednesday morning saw an unique kind of silence as if one was walking into a crematorium. Only coach Khalid Jamil’s instructions to his players from the other side of the ground could be heard. The stands, which generally had one of two big groups of fans showing support for the team were empty.
Only a dejected few were present who were still pondering how Katsumi Yusa missed his chance from the penalty spot to score. Although the Japanese recruit has taken responsibility for his failure, is it enough to reinstate that faith in the minds of it’s ardent supporters?
Once a solid title contender, East Bengal were well on their way of writing history but a string of poor performances which resulted in draws and a loss to Mohun Bagan, for the second time in the league have led the people to believe that it’s time the club officials and the coach bids adieu to the team.
Chants of, “Go back Nitu!” “Go back Khalid!” grew stronger outside the Barasat Stadium following the Red and Gold’s draw against Minerva Punjab and it was clearly evident that things weren’t heading in the right direction for the club. Although coach Jamil still learns to take up this “challenge”, he should realise that time is running out fast and that there’s a lot which needs to be done in a short span of time to turn things around completely. That is definitely not easy.
Sitting third in table with 20 points from 12 matches, Jamil’s side have to do a lot of work to reduced the six-point gap they have with leaders Minerva Punjab. As a matter of fact, they virtually need a win all their six remaining matches to get back in the hunt for the title and nothing less than that would revive their campaign or kill the tension among the fans towards the club.
Although Jamil keeps on famously mentioning about the uncertainty of the future, the time isn’t far when things turn even worse if East Bengal keep on performing the way they’re doing at the moment. One would generally feel confident looking at the rigourous training session underwent by the players on Wednesday morning, which showed that they were ready to bounce back come February 4 when they lock horns with AIFF’s developmental side, the Indian Arrows.
But will that be enough to turn things around?