Senior East Bengal players travel by train on their own, club to seek explanation | football | Hindustan Times
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Senior East Bengal players travel by train on their own, club to seek explanation

Speaking to different people who were in Cuttack for the Federation Cup, HT found out that after East Bengal exited late, the club tried to book air tickets for the team but couldn’t find seats.

football Updated: May 15, 2017 20:32 IST
Some East Bengal players travelled by train from Cuttack to Kolkata after losing the Federation Cup semifinal to Mohun Bagan.
Some East Bengal players travelled by train from Cuttack to Kolkata after losing the Federation Cup semifinal to Mohun Bagan.(Samir Jana/HT Photo)

After the 0-2 derby defeat in Sunday’s Federation Cup semi-final in Cuttack, some East Bengal players returned to Kolkata on their own by train in a general compartment, highlighting the disarray in the 97-year-old club after a late slump that blew their chances of a maiden I-League title.

The contrast was highlighted by Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC players flying from Bhubaneswar on Monday evening for an AFC Cup match here on Wednesday.

READ | Federation Cup: Mohun Bagan beat East Bengal, set up final vs Bengaluru FC

“The club is in no way responsible for this. We will talk to the players and find out why they did this. Should we not get satisfactory explanations, we could even take action for breach of discipline,” said Debabrata Sarkar, an East Bengal executive committee member, on Monday evening.

“We had arranged for an air-conditioned bus and SUVs for the team to travel from Cuttack. Those who stayed back availed of this and returned to Kolkata.”

Speaking to different people who were in Cuttack for the Federation Cup on Monday, HT found out that after East Bengal exited late, the club tried to book air tickets for the team but couldn’t find seats. That possibly happened because Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC were travelling by the evening flight for the AFC Cup match, the schedule for which was out in March.

READ | Mohun Bagan set up Federation Cup SF with East Bengal after draw vs Bengaluru FC

The club then organised an air-conditioned bus and decided to leave after breakfast on Monday. This is how things stayed till around midnight when some East Bengal players reportedly informed club officials in Cuttack that they would drive through the night and return to Kolkata.

That wasn’t the only act of irresponsibility on part of the players. With no top official travelling to Cuttack and perhaps because of that, some other East Bengal players, all of whom are on contract till the end of this month, decided to take the first available train from Cuttack to Kolkata.

Among them were club veteran and skipper Mehtab Hossain, India central defender Arnab Mondal and left back Narayan Das, midfielder Mohammed Rafique and former India goalie Subhasish Roy Chowdhury.

“We wanted to get back early to Kolkata and that’s why we left by train. Travelling by bus would have meant getting to Kolkata late in the evening,” Hossain told a Bangla news channel. Mondal said the same thing.

READ | East Bengal play-out goalless draw vs Aizawl FC in Federation Cup, enter SFs

Caring little for the image of the club they represent, these players wearing the team’s colours, boarded a general compartment of a morning train. They were spotted by some Mohun Bagan fans who put their pictures on the social media.

“I am shocked to see that some senior East Bengal players chose to travel like this on their own,” club legend Bhaskar Ganguly was quoted as saying in sections of the media.

Now, one of the advisors with the football team, Ganguly, other officials and some players travelled to Kolkata using arrangements made by the club.