Monday, 24 June 2013

Mohun Bagan 1-1 East Bengal : I-League 1st Leg 2008-09

25.10.08, Calcutta: Mohun Bagan and East Bengal shared a point apiece as Saturday’s crucial derby of the ONGC I-League ended at 1-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium.
The result compounds the ‘Big Two’s’ miseries, particularly Bagan’s, who are struggling to keep pace with three points from five matches. East Bengal are mid-table, managing seven points.
Sangram Mukherjee’s absence from the starting XI and Lalkamal Bhowmick’s inclusion in the wide right position were the only surprises in Karim Bencharifa’s choice of ammunition. As expected, Jayanta Sen started ahead of Mehrajuddin Wadoo in the heart of the East Bengal midfield.
The usual cagey start associated with big ties wasn’t to be seen this time round as Mohun Bagan went ahead in the very first minute.
Man of the Match Ishfaq Ahmed, who did a Forrest Gump running his socks off down the flanks, fed Bhaichung Bhutia inside the box.
Bhaichung brought the ball down and burst into the space left between Suley Musah and M. Suresh. His subsequent shot was on target and surprisingly eluded Subrata Paul’s grasp. Bagan were one up, with Paul’s ‘invincible’ tag suddenly sounding embarrassing.
The desire to win from both sides was reflected in the hard tackles and endless running in the middle third.
As the game proceeded, Rakesh Masih, who started after shaking off a hamstring injury, stamped his authority in the midfield as Jayanta Sen and Chhangte Malsawmkima looked largely clueless. The flair and composure expected from Bagan’s much touted foreign recruit Marcos Perreira, was absent.
East Bengal equalised and sent Stanley Rozario dancing (momentarily of course) in the technical area, as Syed Rahim Nabi struck in the 38th minute. Marcos lost the ball in his own half, muscled out by Jayanta and Nabi.
Nabi then released Yakubu down the right, who, after a quick stepover, sent a precise through for Nabi, who, meanwhile, had given Habibur Rahaman and Peter Odafe the slip. Nabi opened up his body ever so slightly and slipped it in past Shilton.
Rozario’s men could have gone into the break 2-1 up, had Sunil Chhetri’s effort from close range not been saved by Shilton.
The second period started with a moment of madness from Surkumar. The right back picked up a straight red card after kicking out at Rakesh Masih and subsequently pushing down Bhaichung.
East Bengal relied on counter attacks led by the effervescent Yakubu. In the 78th minute he first beat the hapless Anand Vasan and then dodged past Deepak Mondal, leaving himon the floor. The move though fizzled out as Yakubu’s pass to substitute Sanju Pradhan was wasted.
As the two sets of fans went home happy at not having lost to their archrivals, news streamed in that over in Goa, Churchill Brothers moved up to the second spot in the I-League thrashing Vasco. Pride and prestige were intact on a rainy evening, who’s worried about the top half of the league anyway.
One could sense the pressure on Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa as he walked in for the post-match press conference with a sombre face. His team have managed a meagre three points from five games and are still without a win.
Though Bencharifa insisted that he’s a “professional” and the result won’t affect his or the team’s morale, he couldn’t help but admit that Saturday’s derby draw against East Bengal was “disappointing”.
He said: “I am very disappointed with the result, but the point is not bad for the long run. It was after all, the first game that I had my full team, including all three foreigners. I am disappointed with the result but not with the team,” he clarified.

While asserting his faith on the players and club officials, Bencharifa repeatedly spoke about the pressure on his team. “There’s tremendous pressure on the players. It’s not easy to be a Mohun Bagan player on the pitch at the moment,” the Moroccan spelt out.
When asked about Marcos Perreira’s contribution, Bencharifa said: “There’s no doubt that Marcos has quality… It’s just that Marcos, Bhaichung and Habibur were all lacking match sharpness.”
The Bagan coach singled out over confidence as a possible factor for not capitalising on the one-man advantage that his side had over the opposition. “We got overconfident after East Bengal were reduced to 10 men, while they motivated themselves to do well,” Bencharifa signed off.
Bagan skipper Bhaichung Bhutia dismissed Surkumar Singh’s shove as something that happened “in the heat of the moment”.
Bhaichung, at least, seemed more hopeful of his side’s chances than his coach did. “Other big teams haven’t started very well either, so there’s still hope for us… I can guarantee you this much that the I-League will be won by a team from Bengal this year,” Bhaichung signed off.
The man at the helm of East Bengal, Stanley Rozario seemed thoroughly pleased with his first derby outing.
“It was a fantastic experience, the spectators encouraged us so much… And I am satisfied with a point.” Rozario was full of praise for his team and singled out Yusif Yakubu for special mention. “He (Yakubu) was outstanding, it was almost a one man show!”
Asked if he was satisfied with his team’s tally of seven points from five matches, Rozario answered: “10 points would have been better.”
Mohun Bagan: Shilton Paul(Sangram Mukherjee, 46’), Deepak Mondal, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Ishfaq Ahmed (L. James Singh, 91’), Peter Odafe, Bhaichung Bhutia, Rakesh Masih, Ananda Vasan, Marcos Perreira, Lalkamal Bhowmick(S.Malswamtluanga, 31’)
East Bengal: Subrata Paul, M. Suresh (Nirmal Chhetri, 46’), Suley Musah, Jayanta Sen, Sunil Chhetri, Yusif Yakubu, Mehatab Hossain(Sanju Pradhan, 74’), Syed Rahim Nabi, Surkumar Singh, C. Malsawmkima(Mehrajuddin Wadoo, 87’), Saumik Dey
Referee: Pradeep Kumar
MoM: Ishfaq Ahmed

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