Mohammedan SC takes on FC GOA in Durand final today in absence of fellow giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal who did not participate in this prestigious tournament.
Assistant general Secretary of East Bengal , Dr.Santi Ranjan Dasgupta told the Eastern Link- “Of course, it is a major tournament for us. Now that the venue is in Calcutta, we apologize for our inability to play in the tournament this year. After the agreements were done, we hardly had time to prepare for the Durand Cup. It is due to the lack of time that we couldn’t participate. Needless to say, we are awfully missing being part of the action!”
On the other side, Srinjoy Bose, one of the members of the ATK Mohun Bagan board of directors, has said it was unfair ‘to compare pre-pandemic with post-pandemic days.’
” We are committed to the local league as well as the Durand Cup, but this year situation is different. We are grateful to the Durand organisers for understanding our limitations. The pandemic has disturbed all our plans,”.
But IFA secretary, Joydeep Mukherjee was not convinced.
“I would like to ask one question to ATK Mohun Bagan. If they don’t have enough players then what happens to the ISL criteria of having reserve team and youth football development? The thing is, these days, football is being run by investors who care a hoot about supporters’ sentiments”.
“ATK Reserves played in local league previously and when you merge with MohunBagan, you decide to skip the tournament. Isn’t it surprising? If Mohammedan Sporting can play both the tournaments, why can’t ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal? They have disappointed their fans. A day may come when football lovers
may even boycott their matches.” – Mukherjee said.
Former Indian Right winger Manas Bhattacharya echoed Mukherjee.
“Really sad , Mohun Bagan and East Bengal should have played the Durand.
Many of their supporters have become frustrated. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have several achievements in this 130 year old tournament.The supporters of these two clubs feel cheated.
” Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would never have done this in the past , it has happened only because of the sponsors.”
Formar National player and the Technical Director of Mohammedan SC Dipendu Biswas says it would have been better if Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would have played in the Durand Cup.
Former Indian stalwart and All India Football Federation technical committee chairman, Shyam Thapa feels-
” It’s really unfortunate that neither Mohun Bagan nor East Bengal are playing when the Durand has come to their home turf. Mohun Bagan has so many players, why couldn’t they make a team? It would have helped their players get ready for ISL.
These tournaments would have given chance to new players. I am not asking them to use the first XI, but why the officials didn’t play with the reserve team ?” Shyam Thapa , who had won the competition with both teams and the Gorkha Brigade told Easternlink.
Manas Bhattacharya thinks that the sponsors of East Bengal and Mohan Bagan have committed a big blunder by not allowing their teams to play in a tournament like DURAND.
“Do Mohan Bagan and East Bengal Clubs exist only for playing in ISL ? How junior players will come up unless they play in other tournaments ?
All the clubs in the world have their second teams, why not here ?
Sponsors have to answer, as these two clubs have a great contribution towards development of Football in our country. This aspect has to be considered seriously in the days ahead.
Honorary Finance Secretary of ATK Mohun Bagan , Debashis Dutta said: “This tournament has been always precious to us. This year ATK Mohun Bagan skipped the 130th edition of Durand Cup as we played the group stage and qualified for the inter-zonal semi final. We are most likely to participate in the next year Durand cup and will submit a proposal to the Durand organizing committee for a pre-season tournament.”
But it is learnt that ATK Mohun Bagan Coach Antonio Lopez Habas emphasized for playing in AFC Cup and ISL rather than the prestigious tournament like Durand and he didn’t want to break bio bubble also.
May be East Bengal had some agreement issues but ATK Mohun Bagan used the pandemic as an excuse to avoid playing DURAND . It is also surprising when teams like Bengaluru FC , FC Goa, Kerala Blasters,Jamshedpur FC and Hyderabad FC are playing DURAND as their pre season tournament , then why Mohun Bagan didn’t give any importance to DURAND and participate atleast with their reserve team?
(Pratyusha Mukherjee, a BBC Broadcast Journalist based in Kolkata)