The stranded foreign recruits of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will finally leave for their home next Tuesday, a journey that will also involve a long bus ride to Delhi from the eastern metropolis before flying off to Amsterdam.
All the foreigners of the two renowned clubs were left stranded after the government enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My family is very happy to know that soon I will be in Spain. Fortunately, all are good and we are all set to leave finally on Sunday morning,” East Bengal’s Spanish coach Mario Rivera told PTI.
“No doubt this will be an arduous journey but there was no other way out for us. Otherwise we will have to stay back here,” he added.
The group is likely to make a stopover in Varanasi.
The Embassy of Netherlands has arranged a special Dutch Airways flight that will take them to Amsterdam, from where they will travel to their respective home towns, the Madrid-based Rivera, who is likely to continue for the next season, said.
The foreign contingent was forced to stay back after the I-League season had been stopped abruptly due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
The announcement to call off the season was made only recently.
Rivera said they were busy speaking to their Spanish friends and family to fight the lockdown blues.
“In my case, I tried to to follow a schedule: two hours reading, four hours to work in a website for coaches formation, two hours analysing a match, 1-2 hours for cooking new recipes, one hour to train myself, and rest of the time video chatting with family and friends and then watching TV or movie.”
East Bengal have five Spaniards (players: Jaime Santos, Juan Mera, Marcos de la Espada, Victor Perez) and coach Mario Rivera, along with Jhonny Acosta (Costa Rica), Kassim Aidara (Sengal) who are all held up here.
Mohun Bagan have four Spaniards (Fran Morante, Fran Gonzalez, Joseba Beitia) and coach Kibu Vicuna, who will go along with assistant coach, Polish national Tomasz Tchorz, physical trainer Paulius Ragauskas (Lithuania), and their family members.