East Bengal’s first game in the 2018 Calcutta Football League (CFL) Premier Division 'A' against Tollygunge Agragami was abandoned on Friday due to incessant rainfall.
Only the first 45 minutes of the match was played in which both the sides scored a goal each. Kassim Aidara's strike in the second minute had put East Bengal in front. Former Minerva Punjab striker Lago Dagbo Bei equalised for the visitors in the 30th minute from Daniel Bidemi’s pass.
It had started raining 30 minutes prior to the kick-off. As the match progressed the playing surface became unplayable due to waterlogging. In the second half, the referee had a chat with both the captains and decided to abandon the game as he felt the ground was not fit to play.
However, former India international and Tollygunge Agragami striker Ashim Biswas expressed his displeasure after the match. He said that his team was ready to continue with the match as they felt that the conditions were worse during the first half and that it had improved after the rain stopped.
“We wanted to play in the second half as the rain had stopped. Our captain Gautam Kujur told the referee as well. But the East Bengal captain did not want to continue. We had even proposed that the game be started and if it is unplayable thereafter, the match could then be abandoned," the former Jamshedpur FC forward complained.
Match commissioner Bikash Mukherjee said, “The match could have continued under rain or if the ground had remained just wet. But we saw that water had already started accumulating. The ball was coming to a halt whenever a player made a ground pass. The players were not able to dribble as well. Both teams shared their grievances even before the first half was over. Players could have suffered serious injuries if we had continued with the match. So due to unplayable ground conditions, the match was abandoned.”
Away team coach Manoranjan Bhattacharya felt that the game should have been stopped much earlier as the ground had started deteriorating during the first half.
He said, “I agree that the ball was stopping and the pitch was unplayable. But I have only one question to ask. The conditions were deteriorating since the last 20 minutes of the first half. So why did the commissioner not stop the play at that time? It was raining heavily in that period and the ball was not rolling an inch. But still, the match continued. If any player got injured who would have taken responsibility?”
East Bengal technical director Subhash Bhowmick suggested they never protested and on the contrary, it was Tollygunge officials who wanted the referee to stop the match. He said, "It was the Tollygunge officials who first demanded that the game must be stopped. It was finally the referee's decision. I was worried about both the teams as the players could have picked injuries on such a pitch. My captain felt that they will not be able to play in such conditions so he told the referee to stop after half-time."
Bhowmick also spoke on his team's performance today. He said, "Overall I am happy with my team's performance. Our wingers need to improve as there was hardly any wing play. Most of these players have never played in this condition, so it was difficult for them to adjust."