With a new coach everything changes, Renedy Singh said. Going into his 12th national league and a veteran of over 500 club matches, this India midfielder should know a thing or two about that.
East Bengal will be hoping their former captain is right. Since turning down Vasco for them 10 days ago, Stanley Rozario has been talking of a new start. That means forgetting the disaster of a third-place finish in the Kolkata league, getting sagging shoulders to lift and get some wind into red-and-gold sails that, barring a Federation Cup triumph last year, have of late looked very ragged.
Ahead of his first challenge, Rozario wasn’t being refreshingly original by seeking to project a team united and ready for the challenges of the gruelling I-League. But it seemed like a continuation of what the India assistant-coach had been trying to do since leaving Bangalore for the biggest assignment of his career.
The transformation of a grumpy Edmilson Marques to someone enjoying sessions is proof that Rozario has already had some effect. A happy Edmilson can be bad news for opponents, the first of whom are Subroto Bhattacharya’s United SC.
Through a residential camp and some twice-daily training sessions, Rozario has tried to preach the philosophy of “attacking football”. He thinks it is essential to get a beleaguered team back on rails. “It’s a home match and we need a good start,” he said, on Thursday. What he didn’t say was that only then will memories of being perilously close to the chop last season be erased.
Given that United SC saved relegation by waylaying East Bengal’s local league prospects — their U-19 skipper Lalmalswama Hmar striking breathtakingly from a distance — sauces up the tie further. Both teams are a work in progress going into the opener but East Bengal decidedly less so because Ghanaian Yusif Yakubu, who could be the attacking midfield option they sorely lacked, has joined.
On the other hand, scouting for better imports United SC have released striker Subair Muritala Ali and defender Lewis Ebami. Efforts are also on to get two players from Services and accepting they look a little disorganised, a team official said things would settle down by the second round. Released by JCT, defender Subhasish Roy Chowdhury is available and it is possible that Ayan Choudhury could start for Ali with Daniel?s place going to Arnab Mondal.
Since turning pro in 1996, Renedy has won only one national league and none with East Bengal. Playing in red-and-gold for the first time this millennium, he aims to set that right. With a little help from friends like Subroto Pal and Sunil Chhetri who have won more for the national team than at the national level.