Kolkata: Kolkata`s big two, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, were adamant on releasing players for the national team`s Caribbean tour as the state football association, IFA, stepped in to resolve the impasse.
East Bengal, who have five national players on board, maintained that they would not release Mehtab Hossain and Harmanjot Singh Khabra as the duo needed rest, while they had no issues with the other three -- Baljit Singh Sahni, Raju Gaekwad and Robert Lalthlamuana -- joining the Indian team.
Towing East Bengal`s line, Mohun Bagan said if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) give that `option` to their rivals then they should also not allow Sunil Chhetri and Syed Rahim Nabi for the tour.
"Our think-tank feels Chhetri and Nabi too are in desperate need for rest. We have no problem releasing the other (national) player -- Jewel Raja," Mohun Bagan`s finance secretary Debasish Dutta told reporters.
"If they (East Bengal) get an option then we should be allowed something similar. These things have no meaning, but are options. We have made our stand clear that if other teams are releasing players, we have no issue."
Hitting out at AIFF, Dutta said, "On one hand they are imposing a 40-match cap on a player, on the other they are asking for players to join the Indian squad for any tour."
East Bengal general secretary Kalyan Majumdar said, "From day one, our stand was very clear and we still adhere to that."