Santosh Trophy 2018: Bengal look to defend their title, announce 20-man squad
Will Bengal be able to defend their Santosh Trophy title?
The Indian Football Association (IFA), the governing body of football in West Bengal, announced the 20-man squad for the 72nd Santosh Trophy on Sunday. The 32-time Champions have made five changes tothe squad, which played in the East Zone Qualifiers due to unavoidable circumstances.
Captain Jiten Murmu, who plies his trade for Mohammedan Sporting, who are currently taking part in the I-League Second Division, has not attended even one training session with the team. He was previously part of the century-old club's Steel Express Football Tournament in Chakradharpur, Jharkhand last month.
Bengal will also miss four players who have returned to represent their employers Railways in an Inter-Railway tournament, while another is indisposed.
Bengal won their two Group B matches against Chhattisgarh (2-0) and Jharkhand (2-0) in Patna to top the group and qualify for the main stage of the tournament. Bengal find themselves in Group A with Chandigarh, Manipur, Maharashtra and Kerala in the Main Round.
The Main Round, which kicks-off on Monday, would be held in Kolkata, giving the defending Champions a slight edge over other teams. With four clubs in the National Circuit (Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan SC and ATK), the Men in Brown are hoping to use the home support to their advantage.
Bengal are the most successful team in the tournament with 32 titles and also the defending Champions. Hence, the pressure would be immense on the players to defend the title.
Head Coach Ranjan Chowdhury is upset about the fact that many of the key players are missing, and lack of training session can cost them. Despite several shortcomings, Bengal will start as usual favourites and the team is optimistic going into the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Ranojit Majumdar, Laltu Mondal, Sandip Paul
Defenders: Tanmoy Ghosh, Ankit Mukherjee, Krishna Biswas, Manotosh Chakladar, Prosenjit Paul, Sourav Dasgupta Nabi Hossain Khan
Midfielders: Bidyasagar Singh, Sumit Das, Sujoy Dutta, Tirthankar Sarkar, Babun Das, Sanchayan Samaddar, Jagannath Oraon
Forwards: Rajon Barman, Jiten Murmu (captain), Sandip Bhttacharya.
Bengal Santosh Trophy Fixtures :
19 March 2018: Manipur v Bengal, Howrah Stadium, 3 PM
21 March 2018: Maharashtra v Bengal, Howrah Stadium, 3 PM
25 March 2018: Bengal v Chandigarh, Mohun Bagan Ground, 3 PM
27th March 2018: Bengal v Kerala: Mohun Bagan Ground, 3 PM
The top two from the group will advance to the semifinals, which will take place on 30th March 2018. The final is slated to kick-off at 3 PM on 1st of April. Venues for the knockout stage are yet to be announced.