I-League victory with Churchill will be a return to winning ways for Subash Bhowmick

The veteran Technical Director has overseen his team's chances from also-ran's to title contenders in the I-League...

Subash Bhowmick has been and will always remain a legend in Indian football. The Bengal man played as a striker for both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan during his 10-year football career from 1969 to 1979. This was a period where he won the Bronze Medal at the 1970 Asian Games held in Bangkok. After he hung up his boots, Bhowmick was expected to bring the same level of success, that he enjoyed during his playing career, as a manager of a football club.

When Bhowmick first took charge of East Bengal in 1999, he ensured that the fans had a season to forget prompting the itchy trigger fingers of the Red and Gold hierarchy to sack him as coach. However, before the 2002-03 season, Bhowmick was brought back to the club, which proved to be a blessing in disguise as they went on a highly successful three-year run which saw them win successive National Division titles in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 season in addition to the Kolkata Football League, Durand Cup and IFA Shield trophies to go with it. The highlight of his term was winning the ASEAN Cup where they beat BEC Terro Sassana of Thailand 3-1 in Indonesia and thus became the first Indian club to win an Asian club competition. But all good things must end at some point as Subash was sacked in 2005 as part of an alleged bribery scandal.

Bhowmick’s reputation did not undergo a major facelift during his time as coach of Mohammedan Sporting and after that as Technical Director of Salgaocar who were relegated into the I-League second division after the 2007-08 season. The former East Bengal striker remained in the post for the following season and saw coach Stanley Rosario help the Goan club win the second division league that year.

Rosario would go on to coach the Red and Gold during the 2008-09 season. However things started going south for the Kolkata club which prompted the management to bring in Bhowmick as coach when the team was battling against relegation. The coach managed to keep the club in the top flight but this was followed by a dismal 2009-10 season one where they were removed from contention from the I-League.

Stanley Rosario who coached Shillong Lajong after he was ousted from East Bengal exacted revenge on Bhowmick by orchestrating victories over his former club in the Durand Cup and IFA Shield. East Bengal’s poor form was attributed squarely onto the shoulders of Bhowmick who also oversaw a 5-3 defeat to arch rivals Mohun Bagan, in which Chidi Edeh scored four goals and debutant Manish Maithani registered himself onto the scoresheet. This proved to be the final straw for the fans who finally called for Subash’s removal which was later granted.

Chidi scored four in a famous Derby win over Bhowmick's East Bengal

Bhowmick then coached Mohun Bagan during the 2010-11 season leading them to a below par finish in the league. He made way for Englishman Steve Darby in the Bagan hotseat before he joined Churchill Brothers as their Technical Director at the end of the 2011-12 season.

Bhowmick retained the core of the Churchill side and brought in Lebanese internationals Bilal Najjarin and Akram Moghrabi who would have a big hand in the Red Machine’s impressive start to the 2012-13 season. Najjarin was brought to fill the centre-half slot vacated by Gouramangi Moirangthem who would go on to join Prayag United. The former Bagan striker also signed young talent like Bikramjit Singh and drafted in veteran Sandip Nandy to replace the outgoing Arindam Bhattacharya.

With experienced India internationals coupled with youngsters and foreign recruits, Churchill’s chances of winning the I-League can be attributed to Bhowmick’s acumen. His partnership with coach Mariano Dias has seen the Goans doing well domestically and in Asia this year. With further recruits in the form of Sunil Chhetri, Lamine Tamba and Balal Arezou coming into the roster, Churchill look a settled team which can ensure that the I-League title stays in Goa. And as for Bhowmick, an I-League title under his helm after such a long time would only enhance his credentials of being one of the best Indian tacticians in the country.

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