Professional commitments forced three well-known Indian footballers, representing East Bengal at the club level, to travel in a general train compartment. National team players Arnab Mondal, Narayan Das and Mehtab Hossain were returning home after representing East Bengal in the Federation Cup tournament at Cuttack. Travelling without reservation has its own perils and Das was seen sitting on his kit bag next to the lavatory of the Jan Shatabdi Express. They reached the city in the afternoon. East Bengal were shown the door by arch-rivals Mohun Bagan with a 0-2 defeat in the semifinals last evening. According to team manager and former India defender Manoranjan Bhattacharya, they had arranged a bus after finding that all flights were full. But former India international Mehtab and current players Mondal, Das, Mohmmad Rafique, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury and goalkeeping coach Abhijit Mondal decided to take the first train back home without reservation. "One cannot book tickets in advance because you don't know the result beforehand. We arranged a bus at the last minute but had to cancel eventually because some of them went on their own," Bhattacharya said. East Bengal midfielder Mehtab chose not to blame the club for the fiasco. "They are not to be blamed. We requested the assistant coach to let us go, as we had office games.
But all flights were full. We were offered to go by a bus but it could take around 12 hours to reach Kolkata. So, we decided to take the morning train," he said. The rest of the team travelled by private vehicles. A club insider however blamed East Bengal. "There was no top official who accompanied the team to Cuttack. Situation would have been different then," he said. With their second derby defeat in a row to Mohun Bagan, East Bengal capped a terrible season.
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