Saturday, 15 June 2013

East Bengal 3-0 Mohun Bagan : I-League 2008-09 2nd Leg

22.2.2009, Calcutta: Even before the final whistle, East Bengal coach Subhas Bhowmick was out of the dugout. As he started walking towards the tunnel, he suddenly stopped and gestured the celebrating fans to cheer his team on. The crowd obliged and Bhowmick walked down the tunnel in his inimitable style. The job is done; the wheel has turned around after almost two years! The monotony is finally broken; the ghost is dead and buried for good.
Under the glare of the Salt Lake Stadium, watched by over 90,000 spectators, East Bengal outpaced, out-thought and outclassed Mohun Bagan 3-0 in a 16th round I-League match on Sunday. Syed Rahim Nabi scored a brace before half-time and Sunil Chetri netted the other two minutes into the second half.
For those with a penchant for history, it was the red and gold brigade’s first win against their archrivals at the Salt Lake Stadium since April 15, 2007. It was also Mohun Bagan’s first defeat in the ongoing league after a 10-match winning streak.
The loss cost them their place at the top of the heap with Sporting Clube de Goa replacing them. Whether this humiliating loss will deal a debilitating blow to the title-surge remains to be seen. The fact that Karim Bencharifa will be missing Bhaichung Bhutia — who will sit out due to double booking — against Churchill Brothers complicates matters more. How quickly things change, isn’t it?
For that Bhowmick should take the bow. When he took over the reins after the Federation Cup, confidence was at its lowest ebb. After the initial hiccups, things started to change for the better. Two convincing victories made them believe that they could turn the tables on Bagan. As Bhowmick said on the eve of the match, in football, as in life, nothing is impossible.
And that egged on his boys. So, we saw supremely confident M. Suresh and Mehrajuddin Wadoo keeping the likes of Bhutia and Jose Ramirez Barreto silent. We saw Rennedy Singh’s deliveries creating havoc in the Bagan defence, Ismael Addo, not shackled by the pain, hassling Marcos, Sunil Chetri making amends for that Fed Cup blemish, Yusif Yakubu taunting and tormenting his markers.
But one player outshone them all on the day and ran away with the accolades. Syed Rahim Nabi has this knack of hogging the limelight under the noses of the big guns. He has limited talent but makes up for it with loads of guts and a never-say-die attitude. Sunday was no different. Manning the right side of midfield, Nabi was at his blazing best. He scored two fantastic headers off Rennedy Singh deliveries to seal it for East Bengal.
The first one came in the 22nd minute. Rennedy’s corner and up went Nabi. His marker Rakesh Masih was beaten hands down and Nabi’s header tore into the near corner.
The second one came in the 40th minute. Rennedy once again, this time from a free- kick and Nabi’s powerful header just did not have any answer from defender Peter Odafe and ‘keeper Sangram Mukherjee. Nabi had a hand in the third also. Surkumar Singh put him on the run; his blindside surge and the measured low cross took the rival defence by surprise. Chetri did the rest without any fuss.
When Bhowmick announced on Saturday that Nabi would play as right-half, it did take a lot of people by surprise. What they forgot was the simple fact that Nabi is most dangerous when he has Surkumar Singh to complement him on the flanks. It wasn’t a masterstroke from Bhowmick, as some might think. He was just going by the book. Such was their domination on the flanks that Ishfaq Ahmed and Deepak Mondal looked all at sea.. 
And for East Bengal fans it was party time. The flares in the stands and the unbridled euphoria might give the uninitiated the impression that East Bengal have won the title, but a victory against the title-chasers after almost two years is a good enough reason to be delirious. Even the most ardent Bagan fan won’t disagree.
Coach Subhas Bhowmick’s association with East Bengal has a sweet and sour history. Sunday would certainly be one of his sweetest memories as the red and gold brigade thrashed Mohun Bagan 3-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium to end their nine match winless streak against the city rivals.
But Bhowmick refused to term this victory one of the best of his career. “I’m not looking at this as a comeback. In football, sometimes you get success, sometimes you don’t. Everything fell into place in this match because the boys played well,” said the coach. He went on to add: “I really had nothing to prove to anybody. Rather, it’s the boys who proved themselves.”
Responding to the question whether he had expected that his team would thrash Bagan by three goals the coach said: “I had spoken about four goals. You can ask my players.”
Bhowmick, known for his in-the-face answers, explained that the team’s “burning desire to win” made all the difference in this game. He was also all praises for Syed Rahim Nabi, who scored a brace, saying: “Nabi is one of the best utility players in Indian football and will always be. I hope that he will continue to do that job for the next seven or eight years.”
Terming the victory purely tactical, Bhowmick said: “The onus was always on Mohun Bagan. After we got the first goal, it was obvious that they would go all out and leave us enough space in the middle. I left them a free passage down the middle and invited them to come into attack. Plugging their movement down the flanks was also an effective move.”
He also showered praise on Yusif Yakubu and Ismael Addo saying both had been brilliant in the match. “I wish I had worked with Yakubu a few years earlier. And Addo was excellent in spite of playing with pain,” said the coach.
Bhowmick agreed that East Bengal were going through a difficult phase but reminded, “…the players got back their confidence after the match against Vasco, which we won 4-1.”
He was also of the opinion that the ‘chance factor’ played a vital role in the game.
“Whenever I have spoken about the luck factor, people have made fun of me. But I believe in God and that has helped me win this match,” he said.
Syed Rahim Nabi’s friendly taunt at a photographer turned out to be so prophetic! On the eve of East Bengal’s I-League match against Mohun Bagan, Nabi riled the photographer for running after the “stars”. “Ignore me today, but tomorrow when I score two goals there will be a rush, and people will have to plead to take my photo,” Nabi had said in jest.
Well, it turned out to be just that. Nabi scored two goals in the first half and created one for Sunil Chetri as East Bengal finally managed to beat Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake Stadium. The crisis man for every coach, Nabi has always revelled under pressure. His dedication, guts and determination have won him many an admirer — Subhas Bhowmick and national coach Bob Houghton, at the top of the list.
“Finally we have won, huh?” Nabi said as he swept off beads of sweat from his forehead. “Nine matches we didn’t win against them. For two years we had to live through this jinx. Now we all can have a good sleep,” Nabi was talking fast and furious.
“We had a plan and we all stuck to that. Our coach (Subhas Bhowmick) deserves the credit for this victory. He kept saying we can turn it around. And slowly we started believing in ourselves,” Nabi said.
Nabi said he thrives when he has Surkumar Singh to complement him. “I enjoy playing with him.”
The day’s other scorer Chetri, though, was reticent. “Those nine matches never had a bearing on my mind, I took every match as a fresh start,” the India international said.
Nabi’s first goal pleased him the most. “He came from nowhere, took their defence by surprise and finished it in style. I haven’t seen such a well-planned and well executed goal in this I-League,” he said.
East Bengal’s win came at a price though. Mehrajuddin Wadoo, will miss the next match due to a double booking.
East Bengal: Abhra Mondal; Surkumar Singh, M Suresh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Saumik Dey; Syed Rahim Nabi, Ismael Addo (Nirmal Chetri 65), Mehtab Hossain, Rennedy Singh (Sanju Pradhan 70); Yusif Yakubu, Sunil Chetri (Jayanta Sen 79).
Mohun Bagan: Sangram Mukherjee; Habibur Rahman Mondal (S Malsawmntluanga 78), Peter Odafe, NS Manju, Deepak Mondal; L James Singh (PC Lalawmpuiya 58), Rakesh Masih (Lalkamal Bhowmick 50), Marcos Pereira, Ishfaq Ahmed; Jose Ramirez Barreto, Bhaichung Bhutia.
Referee: Dinesh Nair.
MoM: Nabi.

Here are the match videos :

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