Kolkata: Another season might have ended
without any success in the I-League in a trend shifting
towards the Goans and the experts have warned that the
officials of the city-based big clubs must start planning,
otherwise Kolkata football will struggle to survive.
Having begun the 2009-10 season with much fanfare, the
three Kolkata teams - Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Chirag
United - finished fifth, eighth and ninth respectively in the
14-team league won by Dempo.
In fact, it would have been worse as East Bengal were
languishing in the relegation zone before lifting themselves
up on the I-League ladder towards the end.
Last season`s champions Churchill Brothers finished
second while first-timers Pune FC were third, a scenario that
must be baffling for the die-hard Kolkata football fans with
the national league title last won by East Bengal in 2003-04.
East Bengal are the winners in 2000-01, 2002-03, while
Mohun Bagan too have won thrice in 1997-98, 1999-00 and
"Talking about Bengal teams, we depend mostly on foreign
players... We will find only one-two Bengali players on the
roster. We do not have the attitude to nurture our own
players. This attitude is destroying football in Kolkata. In
this way, Bengal football will not survive. The football in
Kolkata is in a mess," former India and Mohun Bagan defender
and now Chirag United coach Subrata Bhattacharya told reporters.
Referring to Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, Bhattacharya
said "We do not have proper planning in place. Coach, players
and management should sit together and plan it out."
He said the officials of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal
should be removed for the betterment of Kolkata football.
"They are just signing big names to appease the
supporters but are they thinking of taking the sport forward,"
Earlier there used to be a technical set of people,
former footballers, who would look after the team management,
coaches and the players, Bhattacharya added.
Former Olympian and legendary P K Banerjee too hit out at
the club officials for Kolkata football`s downfall.
"Look at the Goan clubs... how professionally managed
they are. They have gone ahead, it`s high time that we play
football in right spirit and have a proper system in place.”
"It`s very unfortunate to see the state of Kolkata
football nowadays. In our days, Indian football`s growth was
based on Kolkata..." Banerjee said.
Another city football icon, Chuni Goswami, refusing to
elaborate further on the subject said that Mohun Bagan and
East Bengal should concentrate on grooming the local talents.
When contacted, coach of the champions Dempo SC Armando
Colaco said the secret of their success is their unity.
"Here the coach is not changed if the team does not
perform well. It`s all about unity and staying together. Even
in losses, we support each other and believe in ourselves,"
Colaco said of the team that won the national league fourth
time in six years.
In the 2004-05 season, the club won their maiden national
football league title. They again won the league in the
2006-07 season, and followed it up with the inaugural I-League
title in 2007-08.