I-League 2017/18: East Bengal train on hotel terrace ahead of the title decider against Minerva Punjab
What's the story?
On the eve of a crunch title decider in the I-League between East Bengal and Minerva Punjab, it has come to the fore that the Red and Golds had to train on their hotel terrace on Monday. Due to a wintry weather in Panchkula, East Bengal were denied the chance to train at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium.
Khalid Jamil was taken aback by the decision taken and did not mince his words about the incident.
"It would have been good if we could practise on the ground. Our preparations have suffered badly," said Jamil on the eve of the match.
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It is a must-win game for East Bengal, who are currently on 23 points, six adrift of the league leaders Minerva. With just five games to go in the season, the Kolkata giants need to pick up all three points in this one.
But it definitely won't be an easy task as the Punjab unit are still unbeaten at home, where they have won four of their last five matches.
The heart of the matter
The visitors were offered a choice to train at Minerva Punjab's training ground but a resentful East Bengal opted to instead train on their hotel terrace.
Mahmoud Al Amna of East Bengal was also surprised by the decision not to allow a team train on the match ground and rued the fact that his team had no ball practice on the eve of such a crucial fixture. The Syrian is expected to start for East Bengal for the first time since the Kolkata Derby last month.
Meanwhile, Ranjit Bajaj, the owner of Minerva Punjab revealed that the match commissioner also did not allow his side to train at the stadium due to the heavy rains occurring in the city. It remains to be seen what effect the unpleasant weather conditions have on the performances of both the sides.
If East Bengal had a chance to train at Minerva Punjab's training ground then they should have grabbed that opportunity with both hands. It is the visitors that need a win at all cost and the lack of desired training just a day before the crucial encounter may prove to be a major turning point in the title race.