A group of East Bengal players and goalkeepers’ coach Abhijit Mondal issued an unconditional apology for tarnishing the club’s image through the way they journeyed back to Kolkata from Cuttack on Monday following Sunday night’s 0-2 defeat to Mohun Bagan in the Federation Cup semi-final. With that, the club too has drawn a line on this.
“We acted on our own because we wanted to get out of Cuttack as soon as possible. It was difficult to digest the loss to Mohun Bagan after how we dominated the game on Sunday especially as it came at the end of a season where could have also won the I-League,” said veteran midfielder Mehtab Hossain on Tuesday.
“This was a small issue blown out of proportion because of the way it was projected on social networking sites. We are sorry for the harm we have caused to the club but had we known Mohun Bagan fans would put out the pictures in this manner, we wouldn’t have obliged them. Think what they did was in bad taste,” said Hossain.
All the players --- Hossain, Arnab Mondal, Mohammed Rafique, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Narayan Das and Samad Ali Mullick --- and Mondal spoke to the media after a meeting with East Bengal officials.
“We know we have let down the club. We know that as professional footballers, we shouldn’t have done this. We should have left with the team. The club had arranged for an air-conditioned bus the next day and even booked flight tickets but, trust me, at that point, we were hurting so bad that we couldn’t decide what was right,” said India central defender Arnab Mondal.
“We had no intention to harm the image of the club. East Bengal have always stood by its players. We are sorry to have let down our fans,” said coach Mondal who said in the aftermath of Sunday’s defeat, he too wanted to leave Cuttack at the earliest. Mondal also said he and the players were travelling in a reserved compartment and not in an unreserved coach as has been reported.
East Bengal executive committee member Debabrata Sarkar said the players and the coach have apologised to the club. Those who took a car and travelled to Kolkata on their own in the wee hours of Monday too would be cautioned when they come for their cheques this month, said Sarkar. Going forward, East Bengal will be stricter in monitoring players’ dispersal, said Sarkar.
EB to collect bid documents
East Bengal will collect the invitation to bid documents for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL). A delegation will leave for Mumbai on Wednesday, it was learnt. Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra said they would decide on the future course of action soon, not ruling out whether they too would pick up the document. Both clubs will meet the AIFF on May 22, it was learnt.