Bhawanipore FC coach Sankarlal Chakraborty is hoping to create history this year by winning the 2nd Division League and make it to the I-League for the first time in club’s 110-year history.
The century-old club has not been amongst the big names in Kolkata football but this time they are dreaming big. Despite the problems the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up, the club are optimistic.
Though the first phase of the 2nd Division was halted, Bhowanipore has a chance to play in the final stage, which could be hosted in West Bengal, and seal qualification.
Chakraborty, while speaking about the club’s ahead of the league’s final round, accepted that it will be a challenge for him to prepare the team after such a big gap, but he is still dreaming of making it to the top tier.
“Our target is to win the Second Division League. But the situation we are at the moment, we don’t know when we can start training. This is a big problem for everyone. The players haven’t played for a very long time. There is a difference between training at home and training together on the ground.
“We have given training schedules to the players and have instructed them to work as per the schedule. We are yet to finalise our full squad and once it is done a detailed training program will be handed over to the players so that they can start training at their home. There is, of course, a big question mark over our pre-season at the moment,” the Bhawanipore head coach told Goal.
The former Calcutta Football League (CFL) winning Mohun Bagan coach spoke about the impact the pandemic has had. He said, “The pandemic had a huge impact on the Kolkata Maidan. From local kit manufacturers to groundsmen to the coaches and other coaching staffs a lot of people are involved in the maidan.
“This is a huge industry. You won’t find so many divisions in any other state leagues. So I think the Coronavirus came as a huge blow for the Maidan. This will also have an impact on the players both physically and financially.”
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has not decided where to host the tournament but West Bengal is certainly a front runner. On asked if playing the league on home conditions will benefit his time, Chakraborty said, “I am not thinking about home advantage. I am just concerned about the fitness of my players, how will they be able to regain their fitness before the start of the season after such a gap. Playing home or away is not my concern at the moment.”
The Bengali also confirmed that the club have already strengthened their side by roping in last season’s CFL top scorer Ansumana Kromah and former NEROCA FC and Mohammedan Sporting striker Philip Adjah. They have also signed experienced Indian players like Manotosh Chakladhar and Jiten Murmu.
On the personal front, the former Mohun Bagan boss is hoping to get his AFC Pro License degree.
Comparing the challenges of coaching clubs of varying stature like Mohun Bagan and Bhawanipore, Chakraborty suggested, “The experiences are completely different. When you manage a big club you need to know how to deal with big players. Also, the pressure of media and fans is there. On the other hand, in a smaller club, there are no expectations. No one will question if you lose or praise you if you win. But again there is this challenge to manage low key players and motivate them so that they can do well."