East Bengal FC’s fierce loyalists have found a reason to remain unified at a time when the club appears to be losing its sheen at the Hero I-League 2019-20. The reason? In a show of solidarity for the Spanish defender Borja Gomez Perez’s son Mauro, the red and gold brigade fans clapped for a minute in the third minute of its match against Gokulam Kerala FC at the Kalyani Stadium on Wednesday.
Borja’s son is at present recuperating in the intensive care unit after having undergone brain surgery yesterday. Borja, having flown to Spain to attend his family, his teammates stood by him, praying for a quick recovery of his son. While the fans’ minute-long solidarity was the only bright spot for East Bengal on Wednesday, the players looked out of sorts for the entire gamut of the game after eventually losing by a 1-3 margin to Gokulam Kerala.
East Bengal was expected to find its feet under head coach Alejandro Menendez this season, but it immensely failed before even putting up a fight. With Sunday’s derby clash against Mohun Bagan looming large, the red and gold brigade was expected to put up a performance that would have boosted their confidence. Instead, what they dished out was abysmally bad.
"We stand by his personal battle and are ready to support him in whatever way possible," Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez was quoted as saying by TOI. To make matters worse for the Kolkata-based club, Borja is unlikely to feature in any more matches for the club this season. Fellow-Spaniard and defender Marti Crespi urged the team to respond to the challenge. "Borja is a great mate for us. Now that he is absent, we have to try to live up to the challenge and do the best for the team," Crespi claimed.
Borja joined the club in August 2018. At the start of the last season, the team management extended his contract for two more seasons. East Bengal is currently placed sixth in the I-League points table with eight points from six games.