Santosh Kashyap was unceremoniously dumped by Mohun Bagan at the start of last season after just a couple of months following a poor Federation Cup campaign. On Sunday, he heaped further misery on Karim Bencherifa’s Mohun Bagan as they succumbed at home with a 2-0 defeat.
“I didn't feel it was an easy match. Odafa (Okolie) tried his best and we saw a number of top-class saves by Subrata Paul. It was a very competitive match and they were pressing very hard, but we defended very well.
“I am very happy with the way we played today. I was feeling honestly that we are going to win this match and that's why I told the players not to feel any pressure before the game and not to have any mental block. I am happy that we could win today,” said Kashyap.
He was asked his opinion on the Mariners’ style of play and what is their main area of concern, to which he replied, “I don't feel that fitness was a problem for Mohun Bagan, to be very honest. They pressed very high and we were more focused on ball possession. They were chasing and once you chase in this weather, it's difficult. So, I don't feel fitness is the concern. Rather I feel rhythm is the concern. They couldn't get the combination or co-ordination between the players.”
Kashyap acknowledged that the standard of the I-League has gone up and the going isn’t easy for any team.
“This year league is very competitive guys. This is what I feel from the last three years.”
Kashyap praised the efforts of Subrata Paul in goal and striker Kim Song-Yong and Manandeep Singh.
“You can see how this hard-working boy Tomba (Singh) got back from injury by working hard and is improving every match. From 60-to-70 minutes, he is now ready to play the full 90 minutes. Excellent support from Subrata and I have to stop him from practicing. ‘Bas karo bohut ho gaya’ (stop as enough training has been done), I keep on saying. But he wants to do more of it. So, that's the quality that Gouramangi (Moirangthem), Manandeep and Tomba have also brought. Also Song had a very good match in what was his second appearance only.”
The former Mahindra United youth team coach categorically stated that he bears no ill feelings towards Bagan.
“My dear friends, I don't want to talk about the past and I have no hard feelings towards Mohun Bagan. They are very nice to me and I am thankful to them that they gave me the chance to try my best. This happens in the game. When I came as the coach of ONGC, we lost. Today we won, so nothing like I have to win against Mohun Bagan. So, as a professional coach, this is like any other match for my team.”
Kashyap reiterated that his side have the potential to survive relegation and wants to prove this come at the end of the season.
“I have told you and I am telling everyone that this is not a relegation team.I will prove that later on. I will show you that these boys have talent and they have already proved themselves. First objective is to remain in the I-League and it will be great if we can finish in top seven, since the gap is very small. First win is always special as there is nothing about the opponent being Mohun Bagan. I wish them all the best and hope that they do not get relegated.”
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