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Will the absence of foreign players hurt East Bengal's Calcutta Football League chance?

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The Kolkata giants' lineups in their first two games did not feature many overseas players.

East Bengal have begun their new life under the Quess brand positively, with some much-needed changes expected to take place in the club over the course of the next few months. It was first rumored that the addition of Quess as their primary investor could result in the Red and Gold Brigade playing in the Indian Super League this season, something which was shrugged off by ISL officials recently. For now, this inflow of riches, thanks to a corporate investor makes winning the I-League of utmost importance for East Bengal, who have struggled to win the coveted league in recent years.

While the I-League may be months away, there are significant changes going on in the club behind the curtains. Sanjit Sen was most recently announced as East Bengal's new CEO and will be responsible for signing players and overseeing the development of the club. While the Kolkata giants might be heading into a new direction, they don't seem to be paying much attention to the Calcutta Football League which has been the only trophy they have won over the past few years. Sometimes, it seems like the club officials are prioritizing, with I-League being the main priority for them.

Despite installing brand new floodlights in the East Bengal ground, it seems like the Red and Gold Brigaders are taking the CFL way too lightly for their own good. While new signings from Minerva Punjab- Kamalpreet Singh, Bali Gagandeep, and Kassim Aidara all made their debuts for East Bengal in their rain-soaked abandoned opener against Tollygunge Agragami, star midfielder Mahmoud Al Amna was kept on the bench. It was stated by Technical Director Subhash Bhowmick that Al Amna will mostly not be used that frequently in the CFL and is being protected to be fully fit for the I-League.

It was recently also found out that Katsumi Yusa will also not be retained by the Red and Gold Brigaders next season having done so well for them in his debut season with the club last time out. Striker Dudu Omagbemi left on a sour note, while midfielders Ansuma Kromah (who is playing in the CFL with Peerless SC) and Khalid Aucho will not be brought back either. Quess Corporation seems to be wanting a new dawn for East Bengal, but that transitional period could have a negative impact on their Calcutta Football League campaign.

In reality, only Aidara and Al Amna are involved in East Bengal's squad for the Calcutta Football League. While Johnny Acosta might have touched down in Kolkata on Monday, but he is not expected to play part in the CFL anytime soon (if anytime at all). Bengal has a decent domestic base, but as it's been the case for many seasons, the foreigners have tended to be decisive in them winning the CFL title for the past eight seasons now.


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This decision of opting to go with limited foreign stars and only playing them rotationally could prove to be a mistake for Bengal, who looked quite underwhelming against a Tollygunge Agragami side who had the luxury of playing three foreigners, compared to one of East Bengal. The decision of not getting a quality foreign striker or not linking Aidara and Al Amna together during the league could cause problems and result in East Bengal playing some underwhelming football in the CFL.

Mohun Bagan will mostly have the dangerous duo of Henry Kisekka and Aser Dipanda Dicka leading the line for them after a few matches and also have Kingsley Eze in defense. Uganda midfielder Boban Zirintusa is also expected to join the camp soon, with the Mariners having the luxury of playing three highly talented foreigners in the CFL. Bagan's squad this time is also one of their better ones in recent seasons and they could pounce on East Bengal's vulnerable phase to finally snatch the CFL title from under them.

Although East Bengal have a commendable domestic group, but the lack of any home-grown, Bengali players apart from Kinshuk Debnath and Samad Ali Mallick could hurt them. East Bengal's players looked extremely wobbly when the rain poured and made things difficult against Tollygunge and because of the CFL taking place in the monsoon season, this schtick of playing in rain-soaked conditions will continue. East Bengal's players looked extremely discomforted at having to play at such conditions and only the Bengali players who know their surroundings through and through can thrive under the abysmal conditions which the rain brings in.

In the end, East Bengal's blind faith in their domestic unit could make for their downfall in the CFL and cause unnecessary problems in what is assured to be a much more competitive season. Quess Corp has promised to make world-class foreign signings in the next few months, but the Red and Gold Brigade's lack of talented foreigners in the CFL could seriously hamper their chances of retaining their CFL title for the ninth consecutive season running and finally allow their rivals to break this seemingly unstoppable streak.

Published: Tue Aug 07, 2018 01:43 AM IST

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