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Bengal coach Ranjan Chowdhury not happy with Santosh Trophy preparation

Bengal coach Ranjan Chowdhury says his team are short of preparation ahead of the 2018 Santosh Trophy.

football Updated: Mar 17, 2018 21:43 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Kolkata
Santosh Trophy,Ranjan Chowdhury,Bengal
Bengal are record 32 times winners of the Santosh Trophy (Image for representation purposes only)(PTI)

They may be record 32 times winners in the national football championship for the Santosh Trophy, but Bengal will not start overwhelming favourites with their “worst preparation ever”.

Bengal on Saturday announced a 20-member team and head coach Ranjan Chowdhury painted a grim picture, saying the team has never been so short of preparation in its 72nd year history of the tournament.

“I don’t recall a time when Bengal was so short of preparation. I think I’m facing this situation for the first time ever. We are almost without preparation,” Chowdhury said.

His biggest concern was that he did not get to train with five of his key players including forward Jiten Murmu, who is also the captain.

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“They were busy with their club commitments at Mohammedan Sporting and will be joining tomorrow -- on the eve of our opener (against Manipur),” he said.

“We had virtually no training before the tournament. It’s been a tough preparation.”

The Bengal gaffer will also miss four players who have returned to represent their employers Railways in a Inter-Railway tournament, while another is indisposed.

As a result, Bengal were forced to ring in five changes from the squad who qualified from East Zone by winning their two Group B matches against Chhattisgarh (2-0) and Jharkhand (2-0) in Patna.

Chowdhury, however, said he’s not demoralised and took it up as a challenge to prove himself.

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“I’m not demoralised. Not at all. We always have to think always positive. Everybody knows Bengal are strong favourites so pressure will be on us. We are up for the challenge.”

More than on field training, Chowdhury is keen to build the team off the field in the little time frame he has got.

“The first task is to build the team spirit as these problems affect on the pitch. I will take them out, and try to spend most of our time together. I will try my best to motivate them off the field,” he said.

“The first two matches -- against Manipur and Maharashtra (on March 21) will be crucial. We hope to start off well as we have four days off after that, so there will be enough time.”

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Bengal find themselves in group A with Chandigarh, Manipur, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Chowdhury said all teams are better prepared than Bengal.

“Manipur have been always strong and I’m sure Maharashtra have also prepared well. They do not have any clubs play in the I-League, so they do not face a crisis like us here in Bengal. I’m sure they have built their team well in advance and all their cream players will play. The key for us to get into a rhythm. The sooner the better,” Chowdhury concluded.

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Bengal squad:

Goalkeeper: Ranojit Majumdar, Laltu Mondal, Sandip Paul; Defenders: Tanmoy Ghosh, Ankit Mukherjee, Krishna Biswas, Manotosh Chakladar, Prosenjit Paul, Sourav Dasgupta Nabi Hossain Khan; Midfielders: Bidyasagar Singh, Sumit Das, Sujoy Dutta, Tirthankar Sarkar, Babun Das, Sanchayan Samaddar, Jagannath Oraon; Forwards: Rajon Barman, Jiten Murmu (captain), Sandip Bhttacharya.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 21:40 IST