26.9.2006, Calcutta: A league is not always won by the favourites, but the one who clinch crucial victories at crucial times.
In this analysis, East Bengal, despite losing the prestige tie against Mohun Bagan 0-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday, are still better-placed to reclaim the CFL Premier Division title from the arch-rivals.
For the defending champions Mohun Bagan, losing points to less-fancied teams such as Calcutta Port Trust or George Telegraph in this marathon competition may cost them dear in the end.
Although Bhaichung Bhutia alleged that the tournament was “fixed” in favour of a particular team (without naming East Bengal) and Mohun Bagan’s retaining the title would be akin to a “miracle,” the reality points to this simple logic that wins against small teams do eventually mould a team’s passage to the title.
On paper, the tournament is still open as East Bengal lead the eight-team table with 22 points from 10 matches, followed by Mohun Bagan — who are on 21 points, but have played a game more.
However, if it’s the league title East Bengal are aiming at now, their thunder has already been stolen by the arch-rivals. Even if Mohun Bagan fail to defend the title, their back-to-back wins against East Bengal can more than make up that damage.
The pattern of Tuesday’s return-leg was, however, different from the first one, but the result was identical. Exactly a month ago, East Bengal dominated the entire proceedings but suffered the ignominy, thanks to Bhaichung’s opportunistic strike.
In comparison, the second derby was almost an apology, yet Ndem Guy Herve found the all important opening for Mohun Bagan. The Cameroonian was brilliantly fed by Lalkamal Bhowmick from the deep in the 49th minute. He took his marker Gurpreet Singh in his stride and stole a right-footed volley from the edge of the box, which beat goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar hands down.
The match, however, lived up to its reputation towards the end for all the wrong reasons. Two minutes from time, Bhaichung Bhutia was engaged in a heated exchange with referee Debashish Mishra, leading to his receiving marching orders. Surprisingly, the India captain refused to leave the ground as per rule, despite the fourth referee’s repeated requests. A few seconds back, he was challenged by the East Bengal ’keeper from a 50-50 situation, but Mishra didn’t respond to the striker’s appeal for a penalty.
That sense of denial must have sparked Bhaichung’s anger, leading to his uncharacteristic attempt of shoving the referee. But he clearly flouted the rule by not leaving the ground.
Then came another red-card, inside the injury time, East Bengal’s M. Suresh being the culprit, when he had invited the second booking from the referee with a nasty foul on Lalkamal. But unlike Bhaichung, he left the park immediately. In the second half, Mohun Bagan had a few chances. Lalkamal acted selfishly when he wasted a golden chance by not laying it off for the unmarked Dipendu Biswas and instead going for the goal himself.
Mohun Bagan: Sangram Mukherjee; Eduardo Coelho, Sanjeev Maria, Mehrajuddin Wadao (Bijay Basfore, 81), Dulal Biswas (Gautam Debnath, 87), Deepak Mondal, Chinmoy Sarkar, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Ndem Guy Herve, Bhaichung Bhutia, Ayan Chowdhury (Dipendu Biswas, 65).
East Bengal: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Vincent Pires, Anupam Sarkar (Gurpreet Singh, 46), M. Suresh, Saumik Dey, Luiz Octavio de Souza, Chandan Das, Snehashish Chakraborty, Marcio Fernandes Thomas (Dipankar Roy, 70), Syed Rahim Nabi, Debabrata Roy (Vimal Pariyar, 57).
Referee: Debashish Mishra.
Man-of-the-Match: Ndem Guy Herve.
Here are the match videos :
Source : http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060927/asp/sports/story_6799365.asp