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AIFF XI braced for East Bengal experience

The team from the Capital will have a tough time against the Kolkata giants.

football Updated: Dec 12, 2010 00:23 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times

Trevor James Morgan doesn't like jumping the gun. And though their raucous victory over defending champions Dempo in Margao last Wednesday has fanned predictions that East Bengal could finally win the I-League this time around, the Englishman remains unfazed.

"Yeah it was a good win. But that's it," said the East Bengal coach. "But it doesn't make much sense talking about the league just now. What's most important is that we are five points ahead of Dempo," he surmised.

Compared to Dempo, AIFF XI are indeed infants in this fourth edition of the I-League. But East Bengal's cautious approach to the I-League babes could be gauged by the fact they chose a venue practice instead of their usual home practice.

Watching AIFF XI's 1-2 defeat in the first round match against Chirag United here has however, kept Morgan in the loop. "They are pretty much like the India national team, fearless, organised and with a lot of stamina and endurance," said Morgan of the XI.

"Lets put it like this. If East Bengal are at their best, we will win. If we aren't, they might as well surprise us," said Ozbey, who was the only other player to have watched them play the match that wasn't televised due to the then broadcasting hassles with the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

Nirmal Chhetri, Harmanjot Khabra and Reisangmi Vashum remain unavailable while central defender Uga Okpara couldn't attend practise due to a throat infection. But with enough reserves ready to step up, Morgan isn't a worried man.

AIFF XI were resolute in defending against Chirag and that could be a worry, felt Ozbey. "When a team defends like that, it becomes difficult to score. But once you score one, four or five chances come your way," Ozbey said. AIFF XI coach Desmond Bulpin is looking at the match as a tutorial for his lads. "When you play one of the best teams in India, you always get to learn," Bulpin said.

First Published: Dec 12, 2010 00:21 IST