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I-League 2017/18: Sanjoy Sen - Mohun Bagan always play for Championships

2:03 AM MYT 22/11/2017
Sanjoy Sen Mohun Bagan I-League
The Mariners' Boss spoke of the challenges ahead of the new season and revealed why he chose to let go of Katsumi Yusa to arch-rivals East Bengal...

After finishing runners-up last season, Mohun Bagan are all set to challenge for the I-League title yet again with the 2017/18 season beginning 25 November. Head coach Sanjoy Sen only made that intent crystal clear at the launch ceremony held in New Delhi on Tuesday.

"We want to be champions. Mohun Bagan always play for championships. Last season we missed the title by a whisker, same with Federation Cup, we lost in the finals. we will get on the pitch wanting to be champions."

Sen, in his no-nonsense attitude, slammed detractors who felt that the Kolkata derby (against East Bengal) was scheduled too early, in the second weekend of the season itself. "Actually it's a psychological thing, nothing more than that. Elsewhere in Premier League, Manchester faces Chelsea or other big teams early in the season, they do not have any problem"

"Moreover, one cannot have the fixtures according to one's wishes. We are Mohun Bagan and we are prepared to play any opposition at any point in the season. Right now, I am concentrating on the first game against Minerva Punjab. Our away record in the last season has not been so good so we hope to improve that. After getting a good start, we will focus on the derby," he quipped.

He also had no problem with the slated 2 PM kickoff, "Since the derby is being played in Kolkata we will not have problems, but if the match was in Chennai or Goa then it would have been harmful for football and it is never advisable."

The former United SC coach also revealed that Katsumi Yusa was indeed released from the club with his blessings as Sen decided to go for new talent after the former ONGC man disappointed him last season.

"To be frankly speaking, I was not happy with the performance of Katsumi and then I decided to go for fresh a player and release Katsumi. We have signed some young pacey players, to replace him. The previous season both our central midfield and wings lacked that creative instinct."

"Pranoy Halder was not able to play most of the matches as he is a very injury prone player. He came back after a long struggle with injuries. Sehnaj Singh also, got injured after playing two matches as they play more physical football. We are definitely going to miss these two players but it does not stop anything. We have roped in Yuta (Kinowaki), Diogo (Ferreira), (Shilton) D'Silva and  I am confident that they will play much better," he added.

Japanese midfielder Kinowaki is going to miss the first game against Minerva but Sen is pinning hopes on his return in time to face East Bengal. "Yes, Yuta is currently suffering from a groin injury. But we hope that he will be back before the opening match and if not we will not take any risk and make him ready for the East Bengal clash."

The 56-year-old was happy with his close season signings. "I think we have signed tried and tested players. Aser Dipanda was the highest goal scorer and Ansumana Kromah played an integral part in Churchill's gameplan. Until and unless they perform I cannot judge whether they are quality players. They have signed for Mohun Bagan, I hope they are good."

"First of all it was a friendly, and therefore result is secondary. We have started late this season, when compared to other teams.The 4-1 result does not reflect the way Mohun Bagan played. We missed some easy chances and therefore the scoreline looks like that"

Against FC Goa, we conceded early due to a defensive error by Kingsley, which made all the more difficult to come back. They had good Spanish players and it became more difficult when we were down 2-0 within 20 minutes. But in the second half, we maintained a shape and had more organisation in our team play. I admit we faced some problems and became static in the first half but in the second half we were much better", Sen spoke on his side's twin losses to ISL sides during the pre-season.