Between them, P.C. Riju and P. Muthu scored 22 of the 30 goals Tamil Nadu managed in the 63rd Santosh Trophy. Enough to get Mohun Bagan and East Bengal noticed. It is another matter that neither may travel.
Riju claimed that East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick sent a feeler but said he is still undecided. Besides East Bengal, he also claimed to have offers from Viva Kerala and Mohammedan Sporting.
“Subhas Bhowmick, today morning, phoned my skipper Kalia Kulothungan regarding my move to East Bengal, but I am not sure, I will decide in the next two days,” the 23-year-old striker, who scored 12 goals in this edition, said.
“East Bengal are a big team with quite a few good foreigners, so I will be, in all probability, warming the bench instead of playing,” he explained.
“My career would be wasted that way. Moreover, I have a very good chance of landing a job with either Southern Railways or Chennai Customs. If that happens, I am not going to Kolkata,” Riju said.
Declared Player of the League here last season, Riju started with the State Bank of Kerala team before junior India coach C. M. Renjith brought him to Chennai. “In Chennai, I played for the State Bank of India for two seasons, before joining Madras Sports Union (MSU). I played just four matches in the first season with SBI but did not miss a single match in the second,” he said.
The young striker may have failed to score from handshaking distance in the semi-final against Goa on Thursday, but Riju's overall performance in the tournament has the caught the eye.
Despite leading the scorers' chart, Riju, however, is not at all satisfied with his efforts, especially in the semi-final.
“I missed the best chance of the match (he scooped the ball over when a gentle push would have sealed the issue in the hosts' favour) and we let go of a golden opportunity,” he said.
Muthu, said to be eyed by Mohun Bagan, too has a problem travelling.
It was learnt his employers are not willing to release the 33-year-old player.