Khalid Jamil suffered his third straight defeat in the Kolkata Derby and he has no one to blame other than himself. He was tactically outclassed by his opposition number Alejandro Menendez and the 2-0 scoreline is a fair reflection of the match proceedings.
Jamil's first mistake was to include Darren Caldeira and Gurjinder Kumar in the starting XI. Both players have not been in the best of form recently and they were poor on Sunday as well. It made little sense to have players like Mehtab Hossain and Arijit Bagui warming the bench while the out-of-form players got a go-ahead in a crunch match against East Bengal.
Jamil even failed to use his trump card Sony Norde effectively. The Haitian was kept silent throughout the 90 minutes and kudos to Menendez for his tactical superiority. The Spaniard directed Kassim Aidara to unsettle Norde as soon as he received the ball in midfield and then Chullova rushed in to help his teammate.
The former Aizawl defender had a fantastic outing. He was solid at the back and did not allow Norde any breathing space. Neither did the Bagan skipper have a clear sight at goal nor he was allowed to dictate the tempo of the match.
Jamill had two weeks to mend his defence but clearly, the Mumbai-based coach has failed to deliver. A lack of communication was evident amongst Bagan defenders and on a couple of occasions, they were fortunate that East Bengal were sluggish to make them pay.
Eze Kingsley's poor run of form continues and the way he lost the duel against Jobby Justin which led to the opener is a testimony to it. The Nigerian not only failed to control the ball but also gifted it to Justin who showed a clean pair of heels, got the better of Lalchhawnkima and then served it on a plate for Jaime Santos to do the needful.
A lack of a Plan-B was evident the way Bagan approached the game. Their wings were clipped and their midfield was not allowed to settle down. The lack of creativity was once again evident and since Norde had an off-day, Bagan could hardly create chances in the attacking third. Jamil's substitutions had no effect on the game and the introduction of Tirthankar Sankar ahead of Arijit Bagui made little sense.
This loss shows that Jamil must go back to the drawing board and rework his tactics. With league title a distant dream for Bagan it now remains to be seen whether the I-League winning coach can at least guide them to a top-four finish.