East Bengal on Wednesday announced the final squad for the 2009-10 season, the list including ex-Czech Republic and Liverpool star Patrick Berger’s brother Jan, a Lebanon international, an Argentine and — contentiously — Bhaichung Bhutia.
At a press conference, coach Subhash Bhowmick declared a list of 33 players clarifying that India skipper Bhutia and Riston Rodrigues have been kept on the list in the hope that they would be cleared eventually. Both are caught in a dispute with Mohun Bagan and Bhutia’s case comes up for hearing at the Indian Football Association (IFA) on Thursday.
Bhowmick’s moving out of Africa in his search for imports this time is a striking shift for an Indian club. Only the Ghanaian Yusif Yakubu has been retained while Argentine striker Sebastian Omar Monesterolo and midfielder Berger have been recruited along with Lebanese Ramez Dayoub. Brazilian Edmilson Marques, 29, too has been recalled after he had to leave early last season due to Hepatitis B.
Bhowmick also said the club has hired Malaysian Mashidi Suleiman as their physical trainer. Suleiman, he said, has been a physio with the Malaysian national team.
“The foreigners are of high quality. Except Yakubu, everyone should arrive by 14th (July),” Bhowmick said. The team leaves on July 17th for Puri where they will undergo a three-week long camp. Later, the team might leave for Bangladesh for a tour.
“I have requested the club to arrange for a 15-day camp in Bangladesh that will also include five matches,” Bhowmick said.
“The club authorities have given me the permission to build my own team. This year Subhash Bhowmick is responsible for the team’s performance. I can’t make anyone a scapegoat this year,” he said.
Asked about Bhutia, he said: “Whenever I hear Bhaichung Bhutia’s name I start salivating. I hope he can play for us and that he gets justice from some platform.”