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The Black and Whites had a disastrous I-League campaign which saw them finishing at the bottom of the table. Goal’s Atanu Mitra reflects and gives his verdict…

 Atanu Mitra
 COMMENT| I-League
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Goal in its end of season special analyses the performance of all the teams in India's top flight and in this piece, we focus on Mohammedan Sporting.

Mohammedan Sporting

Expectation : Having returned to I-League after finishing runners-up in the second division, Mohammedan did a decent job in the transfer market where they landed one of the strongest foreign contingents in the country - Luciano Sobrosa, Josimar Martins, Tolgay Ozbey and Penn Orji. The Indian pool of players didn't have many star names although they did rope in the likes of Khangtang Paite and Collin Abranches, who were fresh from a commendable display last season. They won the Durand Cup before the I-League kicked-off and as a result, not many billed them amongst relegation favourites.

Result : Their campaign startedwith three back-to-back losses before registering their first win against Rangdajied United. The situation never improved as the team failed to notch up victories in consecutive matches throughout the season with a series of three drawn games being their best run.

Despite loaning players from IMG-Reliance and changing the coach, the team continued to be in the relegation zone. They did ignite hopes of avoiding the drop by winning their final match against Mumbai FC on the penultimate match-day, but a Churchill win on the next evening crushed their hopes of retaining the I-League berth.

Mohammedan ended the season with a paltry 24 points from as many games played and were the only team relegated from the competition.

The Coach : Masood Bola Aziz, who was recruited from Finland by the officials never looked at ease. Official interfering in his job was a common sight and the poor string of results saw him lose his job before the Federation Cup.

Sanjoy Sen took over the reins, and despite all the sympathy he gained from the local media, there is no denying the fact that his tryst with the club was no better than that of Masood. While the foreign gaffer bagged 13 points from as many matches, Sen could only garner 11 from the 11 matches.

Taro Hasegawa was inducted into the squad in place of Ozbey, but Sen’s reluctance to give the Japanese a start didn't help their cause. The new recruit was undoubtedly the side’s best player post winter break, but could earn only five starts for the side.

In the end, it was a case of too little too late as Mohammedan having once again failed to stay in top division for more than a season.

Where it went wrong
: Almost everywhere! The officials brought in top quality foreign players and also brought in several top Indian players. When results didn't go as expected, they took over the reins and called the shots on technical aspects as well. This resulted in collective frustration in the squad which eventually saw the coach getting the pink slip.

They chose to let go of Ozbey who was struggling at the club and brought several players from IMG-Reliance. However since those players were short on match practice, they didn't really help matters.

Top 3 Performances

1. Sporting Clube de Goa 1-3 Mohammedan Sporting

2. Rangdajied United FC 0-3 Mohammedan Sporting

3. Mumbai FC 1-2 Mohammedan Sporting

Top Player of the Season
Luciano Sobrosa

Luciano chases Uilliams in his usual style

The Brazilian defender was the most consistent performer of the side. The back-line did reasonably well, and at one of point of time managed five consecutive clean sheets. Sobrosa was like a pillar in the defense, partnering with Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Sandeep Sangha. Injuries did hamper his season but still he was by far the best.

Flop Player of the Season
Rakesh Masih

Masih was the worst

After spending a few years in Mohun Bagan, Masih joined Salgaocar FC from where he was loaned to Mohammedan Sporting. However, just like his last season at Mohun Bagan, the Tata Football Academy graduate had little to offer on the creative front and turned out to be a liability for his side. Masood accused him of being 'stagnant', the injury of Anthony Soren and the appointment of Sen as the new coach gave him a chance to feature alongside Manish Maithani. However, his consistent lackluster performances contributed to his team's failure.

“They (The strikers) were not doing what they were told to do. So I'm very disappointed "

- Masood Bola Aziz
(Mohammedan coach)