2nd Division I-League: Ozone FC banking on CS Sabeeth and Gunashekar Vignesh before final round

Ozone FC
Sabeeth and Vignesh are pumped up before second division final round...

CS Sabeeth was hitting all the right notes when he signed for Mohun Bagan in 2012. In his first season with the Mariners, he was used as a super-sub by then-coach Karim Bencharifa and the Tami Nadu born striker repaid the trust shown on him by putting in impressive shifts in his limited appearances. 

With time, he cemented his spot as a starter and in the 2013 season, he made 21 appearances in the I-league for Bagan. He moulded himself to be a derby-specialist as he scored twice against arch-rivals East Bengal in both the IFA Shield and I-League. After his stint at Maroon and Green camp, he was poached by East Bengal. Since then, his career graph has gone downhill. 

"I am learning from past mistakes. I was playing at the topmost level and I came down since the last three seasons. I want to come back and be consistent, which I have been this season. I am trying my best to come back to the I-League and the national team. This team wants to come to the I-League badly and I want to help them. I hope I am on the right track," said a confident Sabeeth to Goal after guiding Ozone to the final round. 

CS Sabeeth Mohun Bagan vs Salgaocar I-League

His tenure with the Red and Golds was a forgettable one as he failed to impress then head coach Biswajeet Bhattacharjee. When Trevor Morgan took the reins at the end of 2016, Sabeeth thought that his fortunes might change for the better. But that was not the case.

"The coach (Biswajit Bhattacharyya) didn't favour me enough and I got almost no chances. I had a two-year contract with East Bengal and even when Trevor Morgan came, it didn't work for me. I was disappointed, my career was going downhill, I had to end the contract and I came down to Ozone to prove myself," said Sabeeth.

Under the guidance of David Booth, Ozone FC has been in spectacular form and the former Pailan Arrows player has been a vital cog in the attacking front. He is the second-highest goalscorer in the 2nd division with seven goals in 10 appearances.

"The aim is to take the team to the I-League is the only motive. From last season we have learnt from our mistakes. The coach back then (Bert Zuurman) was nice but wasn't experienced. He was primarily a youth team coach. He couldn't handle the job. The players were better last time but we still couldn't do it. This year, we are compact and we are very lucky to have a coach like David. No excuses now as only one team qualifies from the final round," said a determined Sabeeth. 

His team-mate Gunasekhar Vignesh also heaped praise on Booth. 

"We are getting to learn a lot under David Booth. He approaches each game differently and both his attacking and defensive tactics are great. He is a simple coach and respects every player on the personal level.

"It could have been better if we won the last match. But, we now know what are the drawbacks in the team. So we will work on it and come back stronger. That was a lesson. Even David said let us learn and move forward," said Vignesh. 

Gunasekhar Vignesh Ozone FC

The Karnataka state captain remains disappointed as he could not lead his state past the semi-final stage in the Santosh Trophy but remains focused on guiding Ozone to top-tier football by winning silverware on May 30.

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He also pointed out even though Bengaluru FC has been a success story in the recent years, it is disheartening for him to find that no state player has been fortunate enough to don the blue jersey last season. 

"We are confident enough to make it to the I-League. More than me and the players, Bangalore football needs that. Even though Bengaluru FC is there from the city, there are no local players in their club and it is a fact. To improve Bangalore football, we have to prove that Bangalore is good enough. Many players will get inspired and we have to change Bangalore football," said Vignesh.

Only time will tell whether the Sabeeth-Vignesh duo can steer Ozone to the top flight of Indian football but their fans can take heart from the fact that the team has looked to be in great shape under David Booth.