Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan continued their winning run in the Calcutta Football League (CFL), getting the better of Subhash Bhowmick coached Tollygunge Agragami 2-0 at the club ground on Sunday evening. Ansumana Kromah and Nikhil Kadam scored on either side of half-time to earn three points in a match where Mohun Bagan dominated mostly but also lived dangerously midway into the second half before getting their second goal.
The turn-out, once again, was surreal, with the 22,000 capacity stadium full and more people catching the match outside the venue in a giant screen - something that has been organized for the first time in Indian football to pacify the fans who don't get to enter the ground once it's houseful. Subhash Bhowmick, the former coach of the side, who had played a pivotal role in recruiting players who made the core of the club's winning XI in the last three seasons, returned to the club as the opponent coach on an evening where the applauds were reserved for club legend Jose Ramirez Barreto, who was celebrating his birthday.
Kromah opened the scoring in the 13th minute of the match, after a sublime back-heel by Kamo found him in front of goal. While Sourav Chakraborty, the Tollygunge custodian did well to stop two shots by Kamo Bayi, Laltu Hembram hit the cross-bar once at the opposite end. However, it was Nikhil Kadam's header late into the second half which put the tie to bed, after he was left unmarked while being fed by a cross from the left by Pintu Mahato as the opponent defenders remained focused only on keeping the foreigner duo chained.
Here are three things we learned from the match:
Mohun Bagan's wings cut-off?
The fact that Mohun Bagan were able to hit the ground running in this edition of the CFL and unlike many other recent seasons was mainly due to the fact that their foreigner duo of Ansumana Kromah and Kamo Bayi scored tons of goals, getting good support from the two wingers Chesterpaul Lyngdoh and Azharuddin Mullick. While the form of the two overseas players has continued to excel, the two young Indian wingers have looked increasingly off-colour in their recent appearances. Just like last Sunday, Azhar once again missed a couple of golden chances to register his name on the score-sheet but floundered both while Lyngdoh, though impressive in patches, looked far from his usual lively self.
With arch-rivals East Bengal depending heavily on their two wingers Laldanmawia and Brandon, it's high time Shankarlal Chakraborty works hard to help his wingers returns to shape, which will automatically take the pressure of the two strikers who are keeping the Mariners up and running.
Mohun Bagan defense growing in confidence
While the goalkeeping and midfield continue to remain a cause of concern for the Green and Maroon management, their defense has grown in stature. Skipper Kinshuk Debnath returned to the starting line-up on Sunday and had a good outing, even though his man of the match award would look a bit far-fetched. Eze Kingsley hasn't taken many a wrong step in his Maidan career so far while Ricky on the left did well to come in at times and outnumber the opponent midfield, especially while creating the move for the first goal. It will be interesting to see whether right-back Arijit Bagui can keep his place in the presence of Sarthak Golui, but the local boy has also come a long way after a horrid first match against Southern Samity.
Though it should be stressed time and again that the Mariners -like the other two big teams - have not faced any strong attacking unit yet, but ahead of their match against Mohammedan Sporting on 10th and East Bengal on 24th, the defense has been able to live up to its name.
Ambition killing small teams' hopes?
Till about a few years back, the smaller teams of the Maidan used to 'park the bus' against the giants trying to win a solitary point, but the situation has changed drastically over the last couple of seasons. With four teams facing relegation in the ten-team league, the teams are not shy to go on the offensive even against the likes of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
While this has resulted in upsets at times, overall it has done no good to their cause, making the game more open to the advantage of the forwards of the big clubs. The score-lines have thus started to look more humiliating, but the quality of football is better.
This, precisely was the case on Sunday, where Tollygunge rarely tried to make their own territory crowded and tried to weave together passes to build their own moves. Their two foreigners Anthony Wolfe and Bekay Bawar are too static and physical to roam around as their playing style requires, but that didn't stop young players like Hira Mondal and Laltu Hembram from showing their potential. The goal by Nikhil Kadam was a big face-saver for the hosts, who spent a good 20 minutes in the second half being the second best side in the contest.