Bengal boss Gazi credits club’s youngsters before clash with Sawbridgeworth

Action from the Essex Senior League derby between Tower Hamlets and Sporting Bengal United at Mile E

Action from the Essex Senior League derby between Tower Hamlets and Sporting Bengal United at Mile End Stadium. Picture: Tim Edwards - Credit: Archant

Sporting Bengal United manager Imrul Gazi took the opportunity of a weekend without a game to reflect on the success of the club’s academy players this season before his attention turns to Saturday’s visit of Sawbridgeworth Town.

Gazi admitted Bengal have had to cope with the loss of key players both to major injuries and rival clubs.

This includes talismanic midfielder Ash Siddick, who since moving to Stansted has won all of his last 11 games.

But Gazi took solace in the fact that outgoing players have presented members of the club's youth academy - including his son - with the chance to impress in the first team.

"When I get the opportunity to play lads who have come through the academy it's always a proud moment," he said.

"One is my own son - Raul Gazi - who's got a great attitude for a 17-year-old. He's in the gym four times a week, never misses training, he's at every single game home or away whether he plays or not.

"The other is our young midfielder Adil Haque - whether it's off the bench or they're starting, whenever a job has been needed of them, both of them have been outstanding and haven't looked out of place."

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Raul Gazi has played 16 games this season, while Haque, 18, has played 12 games, scoring one goal.

Both played in Sporting Bengal's first ever academy team in 2012 when they were ten years old and have been at the club ever since.

Gazi was candid about the realities of coaching his own teenager, adding: "I'm conscious he's my son - it's difficult, even when he's had a good game it's hard for me.

"As with many parents, I'm the type to be a bit more negative and maybe don't give him the credit he deserves."

Both players are in the squad for Saturday's clash at home to bottom club Sawbridgeworth - who have just one win this season - but Gazi was adamant his side will not take anything for granted.

"We can't afford to be complacent - we're one or two losses away from being in a similar position in the bottom three or four," he said.

"We don't need that - it's a huge game, a six-pointer like when we played Tower Hamlets.

"It's a game we must win and the pressure is on my players - I have no issue saying that."