Kolkata, March 8 (IANS) East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil on Thursday accepted full responsibility for the club's failure to capture the I-League title despite having it on a plate at one point, saying his planning was not up to the mark.
"I am responsible for East Bengal's performance. My planning was not up to mark," Jamil told reporters after East Bengal were held to a 1-1 draw by debutants Neroca FC.
East Bengal needed to beat second-placed Neroca and then hope table-toppers Minerva Punjab FC don't triumph against relegation-threatened Churchill Brothers.
Arch-rivals Mohun Bagan also had to not win at Gokulam Kerala FC as they have a better head-to-head record against East Bengal.
But at Panchkula, Minerva (35 points) saw off Churchill 1-0 to bag their maiden title defying all odds while Mohun Bagan were held to a 1-1 draw by Gokulam Kerala FC at Kozhikode.
East Bengal thus finished fourth in the points table with 31 points, the same as Mohun Bagan who ended third owing to a better head-to-head record.
Neroca (32 points) finished second while Churchill were relegated.
Minerva, though, mustered only six points in their final five fixtures opening up the league and allowing the likes of Neroca, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan to harbour hopes of winning the crown as well.
"We failed in many matches. I cannot pick out one game where we lost the title," Jamil said when asked to pick one tie which he thought turned the tide against them.
The Red and Golds, without a league title for 14 years, dropped points in crucial matches like against Shillong Lajong where they were held 2-2.
"That match was vital," Jamil said. "We let it slip in that game. I am not happy and I don't want to speak much," the former Aizawl FC's I-League winning coach added.
Jamil was asked whether he is staying on for the Super Cup. "Let's see. I will see tomorrow."