East Bengal retained their top position in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) table with a fifth straight win against Railway FC on Monday. Joby Justin scored the opening goal of the match as early as the third minute and VP Suhair then scored a brace to triple the lead in the second half.
The Red and Golds failed to convert the easiest of chances today and as a result, the team had to remain content with just the three goals. The home side had fielded only one foreigner in Mahmoud Al Amna as both the Trinidad & Tobago internationals Carlyle Mitchell and Willis Plaza returned to their country for international duty.
Joby Justin, a young striker from Kerala, has joined the ranks of the Red and Golds this season. After four matches, coach Khalid Jamil finally decided to give Justin his much-awaited debut. The Indian striker did not disappoint his coach as he found the back of the net within three minutes. He made a run into the penalty box and from a very narrow-angle, unleashed his effort straight at Railway goalkeeper Sudipta Banerjee, who fumbled and let the ball into the back of the net.
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There after, East Bengal got at least four genuine chances to score including three golden opportunities for VP Suhair but the strikers couldn't convert.
Khalid Jamil's men looked determined in the second half and launched a series of attacks at the Railway FC goal. Railway FC was forced to change goalkeeper Sudipta with the more experienced Rana Chakraborty in the first half itself.
Rana single-handedly saved four to five chances in the second half and increased the home fans' frustration. Thousands of fans turned up today at the East Bengal ground on a busy Monday afternoon to watch their favourite team play. Much to crowd's amusement, Suhair scored the second goal in the 68th minute.
The goal was a result of a brilliant link up play by the team. Samad Ali Mallick ran down the right flank and threaded a pass into the box, which was met by Justin. The youngster tried to score with a back heel but his attempt came off the post. After having missed quite a few chances, Suhair finally found the back of the net from the rebound.
The second goal not only shattered Railway FC's confidence who until then were continuously troubling the East Bengal defenders on counter attacks but also came as an energy booster for the home side. Suhair doubled his tally in the 82nd minute from a brilliant pass from Laldanmawia Ralte.
The former Aizawl FC winger ran down the left flank, got past his marker and placed the ball on a plate for Suhair to tap in and secure all three points for his team.
Here are three things we learned from the match:
Joby Justin's impressive debut
It was a dream debut for Kerala-born striker Joby Justin who replaced Willis Plaza up front against Railway FC. East Bengal secured an early lead today thanks to a valiant effort from Joby Justin. Other than scoring the goal, the young forward remained an absolute live wire up front for the club.
He was full of energy and worked really hard in the match. VP Suhair may have scored twice today but Justin's presence was truly felt. He came down to support the midfield at times and also created a number of chances operating from the right side.
Joby Justin has a bright future and Khalid Jamil should put more focus on the striker and nurture him well so that the team can profit during the I-League and in future.
Mahmoud Al Amna, the work horse!
He was the talisman behind Aizawl FC's fairy tale I-League winning campaign last season. The 34-year-old Syrian midfielder is a marshal who always has a command of his area in the game.
He ran box-to-box and created brilliant passes through the middle of the pitch. Amna was simply outstanding today on the pitch. He was seen coming deep to help the defenders and also joined the attackers to create or score goals. With an impeccable work rate, he was the main architect behind East Bengal's success today.
East Bengal players missed plenty of chances
The scoreline should have flashed 6-0 or 7-0 after East Bengal left the pitch. Unfortunately, thanks to a series of missed chances, the team had to remain content with only three goals.
Suhair who scored 2 today should have at least netted two more. It could have been his day and he could have become the top scorer in the league, but it was not meant to be. Suhair, Chullova and even Joby Justin missed chances in the first half.
While that did not affect today's result, it may hamper the club's dream of winning eighth CFL title on the trot. The other two title rivals Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting are playing equally well this season and are in shape to compete for the title. One major slip and the Red and Golds will have to kiss their title goodbye.
Khalid Jamil needs to work a lot on the goal scoring part in his training session and try and mend this drawback of the team as soon as possible.