East Bengal knew that the iron posts supporting the goal netting at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan wouldn’t pass muster for Wednesday’s AFC Cup group H match against Thailand’s Chonburi FC.
So did the Indian Football Association (IFA) and the stadium authorities.
“This was pointed out last season as well by a match commissioner but we had managed to convince the official not to force the issue,” said a club official, who did not want to be named given the sensitive nature of the issue.
Anil Kamath, the local and general coordinator between the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF), was more forthcoming. “On behalf of the AIFF, I had told the club, the IFA and the stadium authorities about this,” he told HT on Wednesday.
“Last year, I was assured by the stadium authorities that the posts would be replaced in 15 days,” Kamath said.
The match commissioner for Wednesday’s tie, Kamarudin Bin Sakhari of Malaysia, had objected about the iron beams at Tuesday’s managers’ meeting.
“We have assured him that by the time we play our next match, this would be taken care of. We have also requested the state sports minister (Kanti Ganguly) to redress this,” said Gopal Ghosh, East Bengal manager for the AFC Cup, on Wednesday.
Wednesday saw the iron bars given a coat of white paint and Ghosh said that’s the best they could do within such ‘short notice’. “They had complained about the curvature and the colour of the bar. We could only change the colour,” said Ghosh.
Coming back to the match, East Bengal showed enough character in holding Thailand’s Chonburi FC 4-4 on Wednesday. However, the inability to provide proper playing conditions and facilities for spectators flies in the face of East Bengal saying they are taking this Asian tier 2 competition seriously.