East Bengal to the fore

The wait is over...East Bengal players celebrate after winning the IFA Shield.-SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

The victory in the IFA Shield put an end to East Bengal's travails following the reverses the club suffered ever since it won the Super Cup in October last year.

East Bengal won the 116th IFA Shield recently, bringing to an end its long wait for the trophy. The Kolkata club, which last won the tournament in 2002, also had the distinction of claiming the IFA Shield for a record 28th time.

East Bengal defeated United Sports Club via the tie-breaker 4-2 after the teams were locked goalless in the stipulated time of 120 minutes.

The East Bengal coach, Trevor James Morgan, gave credit to his goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who saved the first two attempts of the United SC players in the shoot-out to give his side the advantage.

For East Bengal, which came up with uninspiring performances in the league stage against not-so-formidable opponents such as Bhowanipur Club, Shillong Lajong FC, and against the youthful Pailan Arrows in the semifinal, the victory in the IFA Shield put an end to its travails following the reverses the club suffered ever since it won the Super Cup in October last year.

United SC, a team coached astutely by Sanjoy Sen, played true to its recent form and left its mark on the tournament. Beginning its campaign with a 3-2 win against the I-League side, Mumbai FC, United SC prevailed over Aryan Club to reach the semifinals where it shut out the reputed Brazilian club Botafogo BFR. Fielding its youth side in the tournament, Botafogo won both its league matches before running into United SC in the last-four stage.

The maturity of United SC came to the fore in the semis where it effectively contained the attacking flair of the Brazilian side before finding the winner through substitute Kayne Vincent in extra-time.

Sanjoy Sen was adjudged the best coach of the tournament and was awarded the Rahim Memorial Trophy. Anupam Sarkar, the United SC defender, was named the best player of the tournament and received the newly-instituted Sailen Manna Trophy, while Gurpreet Sandhu (East Bengal) was named the Man of the Final.


Final: East Bengal (0) 4 beat United SC (0) 2 via the tie-breaker. Semifinals: East Bengal 1 (Tolgay Ozbey 22) beat Pailan Arrows 0; United SC 1 (Kayne Vincent 116) beat Botafogo BFR 0.

Amitabha Das Sharma * * * Muamba is Petrov's inspiration


Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has vowed to battle leukaemia, saying he will take inspiration from Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba, who is recovering from a cardiac arrest, which he suffered during a recent FA Cup clash against Tottenham Hotspur.

Petrov arrived at Villa Park with his wife and two children to support his colleagues during their match with Chelsea. Before the game, he went into the home dressing room to meet players who had been shocked by news of his suffering.

“With the help and love of my family, my team-mates, all of my friends in football, I am sure I will beat this illness and I am determined to do this,” Petrov said in a statement released before the match.

“I saw the picture released by Fabrice Muamba, my fellow player, and it has inspired me, as has all of the support in the past 24 hours. For me, football will have to take a back seat for a while, but I'm here to support my team-mates and I will continue to support them as I know they will support me,” he added.

Petrov's statement was read to the crowd five minutes before kick-off, as he and his family took their seats in the stand.

The 32-year-old Bulgaria international midfielder was diagnosed with the illness on March 31. The severity of Petrov's illness will require prolonged medical attention.