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Ailing Basu forces date, venue change of matches

sports Updated: Jan 07, 2010 23:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu's admission to a hospital near the Yuba Bharati Krirangan has led to both the dates and venues of I-League matches being changed.

The matches have gone to Barasat stadium with Mohun Bagan taking on defending champions Churchill Brothers on Friday and, subject to a police go-ahead, East Bengal will play Chirag United on Saturday.

Announced on Thursday, the changes provoked contrasting reactions from the teams. For different reasons, East Bengal and Churchill Brothers don't mind an extra day.

Mohun Bagan and Chirag United are livid at the delay.

"Shifting the match to Barasat robs us of home advantage," Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra said. "The IFA is an incompetent body," Chirag United director Nabab Bhattacharya said.

Thursday's change means the matches have been rescheduled three times.

They were originally slotted for Thursday and Friday, at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, with Mohun Bagan going first.

It was changed to a double-header on Thursday because the West Bengal Police, in charge of security at the stadium, had said it couldn't provide adequate personnel on Friday.

East Bengal then sought a day saying they were 'tired' after the Federation Cup and their match was again shifted to Friday.

But a slew of VIPs coming to visit Basu meant both dates and venues had to be changed.

The matches had to be shifted to Barasat because of the hospital's proximity to the stadium, said Robin Ghosh, an assistant-secretary with the Indian Football Association (IFA), the state's apex football body.

The Mohun Bagan-Churchill Brothers tie couldn't be held on Thursday because Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Basu in the afternoon.

"It won't be too bad if we don't play tomorrow," East Bengal coach Philippe de Ridder said, after practice on Thursday. His squad has been hit by injuries and the delay gives players an extra day to recover.

East Bengal though said they would only play after Mohun Bagan to maintain the sequence in the I-League fixtures.

"We understand the situation the IFA is in," said Santosh Bhattacharya, East Bengal's football secretary.

"We can't have any extensive preparation.

There is no motivation at all among the players. The IFA could have easily arranged for the matches to be held at Barasat earlier," said Chirag's director.

"The team was in very bad shape physically because of the stress and lack of sleep. Had we played today, it would have been bad for the team.”

“But we got a day and it helped us. We are normal now," said Churchill Brothers coach Carlos Parreira.

Churchill Brothers's skipper Okolie Odafa has been charged with molestation while travelling here leading to the team reaching here one day later than scheduled.