Mohun Bagan limped to a 1-0 win over PathaChakra in their Calcutta Football League (CFL) 2018 opener on Saturday. Henry Kisekka scored the winner for the Green and Maroons.
Apart from the goal, it was a tale of squandered chanches and anaemic midfield play with negligible creative imagination in the attacking third. Kisekka and Pintu Mahato committed school boy errors in front of goal. It was also evident that understanding and synchronisation between the full backs and wingers are yet to develop into something fruitful. Arijit Bagui started on the left rather than on the right and he clearly struggled to launch first-time crosses into the box.
To add to the woes, Aser Dipanda Dicka is yet to reach prime fitness and had been down with viral fever for the past two days. But the Cameroonian will put pen to paper today (Monday) and should be brought on against Rainbow later in the match as a substitute. It was made clear by head coach Shankarlal Chakraborty that Ugandan midfielder Boban Zirintusa has come on trial and his future in the club will be decided within the next few days. Whereas, I-League winning defender Sukhdev Singh is yet to get clearance as his case has been referred to the Player Status Committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
It was noticed that Chakraborty put special emphasis on making the pitch as wide as possible to facilitate wing-play and had specific inputs for right-back Bagui and wingers Mahato and Basant Singh. Link-up play was far from satisfactory against Pathachakra and the coach spent some time rectifying the position of midfielders and strikers.
On the other hand, Rainbow have made a positive start to their campaign as they trounced George Telegraph 3-0 in their league opener. Poltu Das chipped in with a brace and Maidan veteran Joel Sunday scored the other goal. Apart from Sunday, the team management have signed I-League winning defender Eric Dano and former East Bengal player Penn Orji to strengthen their squad.
Chakraborty stated that Bagan will not make the mistake of taking Rainbow lightly and will be treating them with the utmost respect.
"Our opponent is extremely strong. They had a good start to the league and on top of that, they have got some good foreigners as well. It will be a strong challenge," said the head coach of Mohun Bagan.
But the former Mohun Bagan midfielder refused to accept that Bagan's game play is suffering due to lack of experience at the centre of the park.
"I don't think our midfield is suffering due to lack of experienced players. If the young players do not play in the CFL (Calcutta Football League) then where will they start? Both Shilton D'Silva and Sourav (Das) were here (Mohun Bagan) since last year. I agree that our wing play was not effective enough in the last match but gradually they are gaining match sharpness. Pintu (Mahato) has been with the team for the past three years and Basant Singh is making a come back from an injury. With time they will perform."
Chakraborty also informed that Abhinas Ruidas has suffered a muscle tear but since the injury is not grave he is expected to resume training from next week.
Possible Mohun Bagan XI (4-4-1-1): Shilton Paul; Arijit Bagui, Lalchhawnkima, Eze Kingsley, Abhishek Ambekar; Pintu Mahato, Sourav Das, Shilton D'Silva, Basant Singh; Azharuddin Mallick; Henry Kisekka.