Mondal: 'There will be changes if East Bengal doesn't win'

The Red and Golds have gone seven long years without tasting success at national level.  Six managers have come and gone in that time.

Arnab Mondal hasn't featured yet in the ongoing Super Cup.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Today, the only two players remaining from East Bengal’s 2012 Federation Cup-winning squad is Gurwinder Singh and Arnab Mondal.

Mondal, who was relatively a newcomer to the side then, stepped up in place of the suspended Gurwinder.

Recounting that day, Mondal told Sportstar, “We lost both our defenders before the final due to suspension. Rahu Gaikwad and I started in the final.”

Not only did he start the final, the defender scored the vital equalizing goal against Dempo SC. “We were down 1-0 in the match after Climax Lawrence scored for Dempo in the start of the second half. I, then, equalized with a header from a corner from Mehtab Hossain,” he said.

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East Bengal won 3-2. It was a big fillip in the young career of Mondal and the club. “It was a great feeling to win the trophy. It was only that year I joined East Bengal from Prayag United before the start of the I-League,” he said.

Since then, the Red and Golds have gone seven long years without tasting success at national level.  Six managers have come and gone in that time.

On Friday, the club has its first shot at changing that record in the final of the Super Cup against Bengaluru FC.

"You don’t get the time to explain such circumstances. It’s a result-oriented and a supporters-based club. There is always constant change when you don’t win trophies. It’s the same for the players as well. We have to change."

 

Experience helps Mondal understand the cut-throat approach adopted by the club. “That’s the kind of pressure you face at Kolkata clubs. You don’t get the time to explain such circumstances. It’s a result-oriented and a supporters-based club. There is always constant change when you don’t win trophies. It’s the same for the players as well. We have to change,” he said.

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Being the club captain, he knows that he has to face the music as well. He has made only 13 appearances in the I-League and hasn't featured yet in the ongoing Super Cup. However, he has no qualms about the decision-making of his coach Khalid Jamil.

“It’s the same situation for me. I am a local player. Players who come from other states look up to me to deliver. I am a national team player as well. When there is a decision to be made or when things aren’t going well, heads turn towards me, invariably. This is the life of professional football and that’s how I view it,” said Mondal.

Mondal questions Constantine's selection approach

In Stephen Constantine’s latest national team call-up, only three players out of the 23 came from the I-League.

This has reflected in the recent exodus of Indian talent from the I-League to the Indian Super League, including several key players from East Bengal.

“ISL is what the coaches look at. The way I-League was organised this season, it has never happened before. The pitches were of poor quality at some stadiums, we had 2 pm kick-offs. Imagine playing at 2 pm in Kerala’s heat. Players also feel that ISL offers better facilities. And, as a player, if you are getting a better offer, you take it," the former ATK player said.

Mondal is an Indian international with 23 caps to his name. His last appearance in a blue shirt came in a friendly against Nepal in June last year.

While the two-time ISL winner harbours hopes of playing for India again, he knows that it’s a difficult task.

Mondal also questioned Constantine’s thought process towards putting together his squad. Neither Constantine nor his scouting team was present during any of the I-League matches. ”He (Constantine) is not here at the Super Cup as well! It depends on each coach as to how they strategise and it seems like he is carrying on with his methods,” he said.

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