Kolkata giants East Bengal’s first match in the new Calcutta Football League season against Tollygunje Agragami was called off due to poor playing conditions after heavy rainfall in the entire first half rendered the ground unplayable.
The referees checked the ball, rolling it on the turf after the half-time break and soon the players headed back towards the dugout in front of a packed East Bengal Ground on Friday evening with the score-line remaining 1-1.
The hosts got the lead in as early as the 2nd minute, although it was an own goal. But they were by far the more organised team in the first half with attacks flowing now and then on a rainy evening at the Kolkata Maidan. A set piece movement was the root cause of the first goal where a shot by Kassim Aidara found the back of the net.
At the stroke of the half-hour mark, the minnows in one of their few build-ups to the goal, scored by virtue of a brilliant solo effort from Ivory Coast’s Lago Dogbo Bei. It was really a battle of nerves as the condition of the surface compelled many to commit useless fouls. Ralte's brilliant left-footer was brilliantly saved by Subham Roy just at the stroke of half-time.
During halftime break, the match commissioner decided that no further play was possible. As said by Tollygunge's forward Ashim Biswas, the East Bengal captain had approached the match officials and said they won’t play the match although the rain had stopped by then.
“The East Bengal captains, along with the others were not willing to play the match. Our captain said to the officials that we wanted to play; we requested to at least start the game. But in the end, we were informed that it was the IFA’s decision to call the match off,” said Biswas.
He added, "I have played in worse situations than this. The rain stopped in the second half, if the game had to be stopped, it should have been stopped in the first half itself when the rain was heavy. It is a disadvantage for us as the team was playing very well.”
On the other hand, East Bengal’s coach Bastab Roy denied any claims of influence on the officials by the East Bengal players. Regarding the matter, he said, “The decision was taken by the IFA. The condition was unplayable, players could have been injured and the ball was not rolling. We shouted from the sidelines in the first half that the conditions were unfavourable but the decision was taken after the first half.”
With the first match still not decided, the IFA is yet to take a decision whether any re-match will be played or not. Mohun Bagan will begin their CFL campaign on Saturday evening at their Club Ground.