East Bengal one step away from lifting the CFL trophy after Mariners no show in the derby game

East Bengal vs Mohun Bagan

Kolkata Derby: Mariners absence gifts East Bengal the derby game and perhaps, the CFL trophy

India’s biggest football draw – derby between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal ended with a no-show as Mariners failed to make an appearance in the Calcutta Football League Premier Division.

Drama has always been a part of this rivalry between the two teams. Mohun Bagan had started an exchange of letters with the Indian Football Association (IFA), over the rescheduling of the Derby match from 7th September, 2016 to a later date. Their major concern at first was the match being played at the Kalyani Stadium, which in Mohun Bagan’s view lacked enough seating for the club’s representatives and fans. As a result, IFA decided to build a temporary stand to accommodate 4000 fans, with 2000 extra tickets being allotted to both the sides. But after failing the safety standards check by Public Works Department (PWD) the four thousand tickets allotted to either club, was again reduced to two thousand.

Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra alleged that they were not consulted before “arbitrarily reducing the quantity of tickets, which has made it impossible to meet the demand of our members”. Mitra said his team had even cancelled the hotel booking in Kalyani after receiving “verbal assurance” that the tie would be postponed. “The entire management for organizing this Derby was in such a situation that the conduct of the match was in uncertainty,” he said.

“As the governing body of football in the state, you should accept our logic of providing 48 hours for preparation as it is very essential for the team to understand the surface and size of the field and get them accustomed with the condition,” Mitra said.

East Bengal had turned up for the game at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium, as per the scheduled start time at 3pm. The side submitted its team sheet as per rules and began their warm up training, while there were no signs of Mohun Bagan. Match referee Pranjan Banerjee waited for 30 minutes before calling it off, and declaring the red-and-gold winners.

The IFA was firm on its stand that the date of the match was announced a couple weeks before, but Mohun Bagan’s never-ending complaints and eventual walk out, meant three points and the walkover to East Bengal.

Also read: For when “the Sleeping Giant” wakes up.

Former footballers and fans, who waited earnestly for the season’s first derby, were all left disappointed by the events. Former India captain and mariner Chuni Goswami believed the situation could have been avoided.

“Mohun Bagan faced many tough situations in the past but they always overcame them by playing and not staying away from it. I don’t know why they took such a stand. The game should have been held and players must be allowed to play even under unavoidable circumstances,” he said.

East Bengal captain Arnab Mondal said: “We were mentally ready to play and not bothered by what happens outside the pitch. You don’t want to be crowned champions like this. A player knows that each point in any league has to be earned. I can’t speak for Mohun Bagan players but as a footballer, I feel bad about this,”

East Bengal will now move to 24 points from eight matches and continue to lead the points table of CFL. Mohammedan SC with 16 points from seven games is placed second. With two games to go East Bengal are just 2 points away from lifting the trophy for the seventh consecutive time and 38th time overall

This is not the first time that a team was given a walkover between the two rivals. There has been history of incidents which keeps the rivalry between the two sides alive. Mohun Bagan lead East Bengal 4-3 in the score for walkovers against each other with the last four being the mariners.

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