Kolkata, Sep 25 (UNI) Newly recruited coach Stanley Rozario has taken centre stage as East Bengal, after an abysmal season opener in the domestic league, will take on local rivals United SC in the I-League opener at Barasat stadium tomorrow.
Mr Rozario was called in from Bangalore to take charge of East Bengal after his predecessor Monoranjan Bhattacharjee quit following the club's poor performance in the Sahara Kolkata Premier League, that concluded in the second week of this month. EB finished third to runners up Mohammedan Sporting and champions Mohun Bagan in the eight-team championship.
Mr Rozario might not have to face a situation like his predecessor as the latter had a particularly tough time in the absence of the club's top five players - goalkeeper Subrata Pal, defender Sur Kumar Singh, Mehrazuddin, Sunil Chettri and Syed Rahim Nabi - who were in the AFC Cup playing for the country.
By the time these five joined the club after fulfilling their national obligations, the EB was left far behind to catch up with the top position in the domestic league.
But the I-League has a different dimension with tough competition and players need to travel a lot as twelve teams lock horns in the almost three months duration championship battle.
However, while newly recruited Yusif Yukubu makes EB a better looking side, Mr Rozario might find an easy going in the first match against United SC, coached by Subrata Bhattacharjee, who once trained East Bengal.
While East Bengal take on United SC on neutral ground at Barasat, Vasco play against Sporting Clube de Goa at Margao in the opening battles.
Mr Rozario said he believed in his players' capability as he had already been introduced to many of them in the national camp when he was assistant to national coach Bob Houghton in the AFC Challenge Cup.
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