THROWBACK: Looking back into East Bengal FC’s four Fed Cup triumphs in the 21st century!
Last Updated 2:24 AM 3rd May 2020 .
At the turn of the 21st century, the East Bengal Football Club achieved quite a lot of success with three National Football League titles in four season: 2000/01, 2002/03 and 2003/04. They had won the Durand Cup thrice 2000, 2002 and 2004; and also the IFA Shield in three consecutive seasons 2000, 2001 and 2002.
However, the one trophy that had eluded the cabinet for a long time even after reaching the finals many times was the Federation Cup, the premier cup tournament of India since 1977. East Bengal FC had won the cup 4 times before the turn of the century: 1978, 1980, 1985 and 1996, with 78 and 80 being joint winners with arch-rivals Mohun Bagan.
Twice after 1996’s triumph against Dempo courtesy of a “golden goal” by Raman Vijayan, East Bengal FC lost in the final, once against Salgaocar and once against Mohun Bagan in back to back years.
East Bengal FC even after winning 5 trophies in 2002/03 and then the ASEAN Cup in July 2003, shockingly crashed out of the Federation Cup in the quarterfinals against Vasco and for few more years coming the team failed to reach even the finals of the tournament.
2007 – Ludhiana
2006/07 season was a dull season for East Bengal FC, with only a single CFL trophy to their name and failing miserably in the National Football League, the team management had decided to replace the veteran Brazilian coach Carlos Perreira and bring in Subrata Bhattacharya, shocking the entire Kolkata Maidan, to take charge of the team.
Bablu da, as he is lovingly called, lost the Calcutta League, including both the derbies and his credentials as the manager of the Red and Gold brigade were being raised. The team management handed in another chance to him as the team set forth for Ludhiana to participate in the Federation Cup.
The tournament was an all knockout format starting from the Pre-Quarterfinals and the East Bengal FC were to face another Kolkata giant Mohammedan Sporting in the opener.
Brazilian striker Edmilson, who joined in the previous season had been in exceptional form since arriving in India and this was going to be his tournament. He scored twice and Ashim Biswas scored another as East Bengal FC defeated Mohammedan Sporting by 3-1 to reach the quarterfinals; where they faced the home team JCT FC, coached by legendary Sukhwinder Singh. However, it was once again Brazilian striker Edmilson who scored another brace along with a goal from Surkumar Singh as the Red and Gold brigade marched on to the semifinals with a 3-2 win.
In the semifinals, East Bengal were to face the holders Mohun Bagan who had the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Jose Barreto, Lalwampuia, Venkatesh etc. in their lineup. The Red and Gold brigade under Subrata Bhattacharya, who had a point to prove, did wonders with his tactics as East Bengal FC defeated Mohun Bagan by 3-2 in the Derby with goals from Surkumar Singh, Dipendu Biswas and Ashim Biswas as they reached the finals for the first time since 1998!
In the final, East Bengal FC met 2005 Champions Mahindra United who had the likes of Steven Dias, Sandip Nandy, Yakubu etc. However, the day was to belong to the dancing Brazilian, Edmilson Marques Pardal once again as he scored another brace, with the second goal once of the best ever he scored – chipping an advanced Sandip Nandy just before the half time and East Bengal lifted the coveted title after 11 years! Edmilson won the top scorer prize with 6 goals in the campaign.
2009 – Guwahati
In the 2009/10 season, the team had perhaps the worst start in the history, crashing out of the IFA Shield and Durand Cup in the group stages, then facing the humiliating 5-3 defeat to arch-rivals in the I-League, hence forcing coach Subhash Bhowmick to resign. Belgian coach Philippe de Ridder was brought in for the second time and the team went to Silchar, for the Federation cup with no expectations from the fans!
The Red and Gold brigade were grouped alongside JCT FC, Salgaocar FC and Viva Kerala in Group A with just a single team to progress to the semifinals. The team began their campaign with a goalless draw against Viva Kerala, who were perhaps the easiest opponent in the group. However, to the astonishment of everyone, the team won both the other two group matches by a solitary goal margin against Salgaocar (scored by Yakubu) and JCT FC (scored by Bhaichung Bhutia) and topped the group with 7 points and qualified for the semi finals.
In the semifinals, the Red and Gold brigade once again faced their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan, the third time in succession. The wounds of the 5-3 defeat in the previous meeting were fresh for all the fans who wanted to avenge the loss. In the fag end of the first half, Bagan got a penalty but to the shock of everyone, Jose Barreto put his shot out of target from the spot as the scoreline remained goalless at halftime. Ridder’s boys took charge of the game in the second half – Yusif Yakubu gave the lead from a Sanju Pradhan’s corner and in the dying moments Mehtab Hossain struck the winner as East Bengal FC defeated Mohun Bagan 2-0 to reach the final.
In the Final, the Red and Gold brigade faced a dark horse Shillong Lajong, who had surprised everyone to reach the finals defeating Dempo, Pune FC and Churchill Brothers along the way. The game in the final was a tough battle and the scorelines remained goalless even after extra time as the title was to be decided through penalties. East Bengal custodian Abhra Mondal, who had not conceded a single goal in the tournament took charge and saved all three penalties, hence redeeming himself from the horrors of the 5-3 defeat, and East Bengal FC lifted their 6th Federation Cup title.
2010 – Cuttack
In 2010, Trevor James Morgan took charge over East Bengal FC and started a golden period, as the team management brought in players like Tolgay Ozbey, Penn Orji, Gurwinder Singh, Naoba Singh, Vashum etc. which promised high hopes for the fans!
After starting the season with 5 wins in the Calcutta Football League, the team flew off to Cuttack to defend their Federation Cup title. East Bengal FC were grouped along with Air India, HAL and Pune FC. The team began their campaign with a 3-1 win against Air India as Tolgay Ozbey scored a brace and Robin Singh scored the other. In the second match, they defeated HAL by 2-1 with strikes from Penn and Tolgay. Trevor James Morgan’s team was unstoppable as they also won the final group game against a strong Pune FC by a solitary goal from Penn Orji.
In the semifinals, East Bengal FC faced Churchill Brothers who had strong team comprising the likes of Odafa and Kalu Ogba. Trevor Morgan’s team had a very tough game but eventually it was Tolgay Ozbey’s penalty which made the difference between the two sides as East Bengal FC reached back-to-back finals for the first time since 1998!
The Red and Gold brigade had won 9 straight games since the beginning of the season and had to face their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in the final at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.
The Mohun Bagan lineup comprising of Jose Barreto, Chidi Edeh, Muritala Ali, Ashim Biswas had been one of the fiercest attacks in the tournament. However, the Red and Gold defence marshaled by Uga Okpara and Gurwinder Singh were prepared for the task.
In the first half, Tolgay Ozbey was brought down inside the box but his penalty was saved. The game was evenly poised and goal each from both the sides were ruled out due to infringements.
In the second half, like it was becoming a norm for Trevor Morgan’s side, the East Bengal team upped their ante and it was the new import from Churchill Brothers – Reisangmei Vashum, who got hold of a pass from Robin Singh and calmly placed it past the oncoming Mohun Bagan custodian and scored the winner as East Bengal FC defended their title for the first time in history and lifted their 7th Federation Cup title.
2012 – Siliguri
After back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010, East Bengal had also reached the final of the Federation Cup in 2011. However, in front of a 70,000 home crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium, they were defeated by Salgaocar FC as they failed to make a hat-trick of wins.
In 2012, Trevor James Morgan was in his third season as the coach of East Bengal FC. He had lost his top scorer Tolgay Ozbey who joined the rivals Mohun Bagan earlier in the season. The Red and Gold team management brought in Chidi Edeh from Salgaocar FC and after three wins in the Calcutta Football League to start the season, the team travelled north to Siliguri to participate in the Federation Cup.
East Bengal FC were grouped together with Sporting clube de Goa, ONGC FC and Kalighat MS, with only one team set to progress to the semifinals. The team begun their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Sporting clube de Goa as Chidi Edeh scored late to equalise and grab a point for the team.
The team won the next two fixtures, 2-1 against ONGC and 4-3 against Kalighat MS with Chidi Edeh scoring in both the matches as East Bengal FC qualified for the semifinals where they were to face Churchill Brothers. Lalrindika Ralte, who joined the Red and Gold brigade from Churchill Brothers that season, scored a outrageous side volley winner against his former side in extra time to take East Bengal FC into the final of the Federation Cup for the fourth successive year. Only between 1995 and 1998, East Bengal reached the final of the Fed Cup in five successive editions.
In the final, Trevor Morgan’s team faced the I-League Champions Dempo who had likes of Beto, Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence, Koko Sakibo, Joaquim Abranches, Mahesh Gawli etc. in their squad. Climax did put the Goan side ahead just after the second half began but it was Arnab Mondal who restored parity just 9 minutes later with a thumping header from a corner to take the game into extra time.
East Bengal FC went all out aggressive in the extra time and it was Manandeep Singh who put the Red and Gold brigade ahead and then finally Chidi Edeh scored the third as he ensured the title for East Bengal FC infront of 35,000 crowd at the Kanchenjunga Stadium.
East Bengal FC lifted their 8th Federation Cup title also their 4th in 6 seasons, hence putting away the myth of the jinx the fans had associated with the coveted trophy.
East Bengal FC had dominated the Federation Cup in those 6 seasons and the triumph in 2012 still remains as the last national level trophy the club had won.