press trust of india
Kolkata, 28 Sept: East Bengal’s away leg AFC Cup semi-final campaign got a huge blow as captain Mehtab Hossain, stopper Arnab Mondal and Gurwinder Singh along with four other officials could not fly with their Kuwait-bound squad this evening due to Visa related problem.
Despite last ditch attempt by the East Bengal officials, the Visa approval didn’t arrive in time as a depleted 19-member squad boarded the 8.30pm Emirates flight to Dubai en route Kuwait for their fixture against defending champions Kuwait SC on October 1.
Terming it a conspiracy to derail their AFC Cup campaign, East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar said:”I’m sure, it’s done deliberately by the people with malicious intention to unsettle our team. We’ve been unbeaten so far and they’re jealous of our performance.”
East Bengal shot off letters to both the AFC and the AIFF to probe the matter.
“We want investigation into this… We are running huge amount of losses as tickets had to be cancelled. God knows, if they can travel tomorrow otherwise it would be a huge blow,” he added.
The three players and four officials including captain Mehtab can only join the side if the Visa approval comes by tomorrow so as to catch the 8.30pm flight.
“It’s really unfortunate… We all tried our best and went to the airport in hope that the officials would accede to our requests but it did not happen and we had to return,” Mehtab said.
Even if the players manage to board tomorrow’s flight they would be able to join the team on the eve of the match.
The four officials who could not travel with the team include team manager Manish Banerjee, media officer Gautam Roy, director Amit Sen and football secretary Santosh Bhattacharya.
East Bengal got past Semen Padang 2-1 on aggregate to qualify for their maiden AFC Cup semifinal as they chase the dream of becoming the first ever Indian team in the summit clash. The return leg of the semi-final would be held here on October 22.