A seemingly rejuvinated Mohun Bagan got their title hopes back on track after they demolished Bengaluru FC 3-0 at home in the I-League 2016/17 but head coach Sanjoy Sen preferred not to read too much into the scoreline and instead focussed on the games to come.
"Winning today was important but we still have five more games. There is a lot of road left to cover. It was nothing superb or extraordinary," expressed Sen, who further continued, "We needed a turnaround and that was the most important. All departments from defense to the forwards and midfield were pleasing to the eye."
The former Mohammedan Sporting gaffer's side now trailed East Bengal by just a point and a game in hand ahead of next weekend's derby.
The 56-year-old opined, "People questioned if the international break would break the rhythm but for me the break was important as we did not have a great few games before that and the 14-day break provided rest to the injured players. Look at Sehnaj Singh, he had an injury and thanks to the break he performed exceedingly well today."
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When told that his counterpart Albert Roca testified on fielding a lineup sans Sunil Chhetri and Eugeneson Lyngdoh to keep them fresh for the AFC Cup game against Maziya S&RC midweek, Sen played it off as a mere excuse to lose the game.
"We too did not play Balwant and Jeje giving importance to the AFC Cup. Indian internationals did play. Vineeth, Daniel played and there are more India players in their squad than ours. We scored four goals when Sunil Chhetri played," he said referring to the 5-0 win last season.
"We won 2-0 away when Chhetri played. We just lost this season in the AFC Cup but that is okay. That is a part of the game. It is their wish whom they want to play and bench. Our wish was to win. We won", explained the former AIFF U-16 academy coach.
The Mariners still trail leaders Aizawl FC by four points but they have a game in hand. Bengaluru with 18 points can see their quest to defend the crown end but Sen mentioned that there was more pressure on his side to keep recording wins both in the I-League and AFC Cup.
"Bengaluru also have to play the AFC Cup and they have planned accordingly. We also have to plan like that. We are not Bengaluru FC because Mohun Bagan still have a stake winning every game. The space for errors are less," he replied to a pertinent question.
AS IT HAPPENED: Mohun Bagan 3-0 Bengaluru FC
The former United SC coach praised forward Azharuddin Mallick and wing back Pintu Mahata, who came off the bench for his senior debut after first choice Under-22 players Subhasish Bose and Raynier Fernandes were suspended and injured respectively.
"Azharuddin Mallick pulled off the weight of the Mohun Bagan jersey with ease. Never looked like an Under-22 player playing. I did not want to play Jeje (Lalpekhlua) and Balwant (Singh) but it was important they played for the last 10-15 minutes," elucidated Sen.
Sen also chose to include Haitian winger Sony Norde who had travelled 20-odd hours straight and reached the city during the wee hours of Friday morning. " I talked to Sony after training yesterday. He wanted to sleep and when he woke up he was raring to go. Why not put him in?," retorted Sen after being quizzed why he would risk an important player ahead of the crucial Kolkata derby, next Sunday.
Albert Roca - Mohun Bagan made us pay for fielding a young side
All in all, Sen was a content man with this charges putting up a valiant display to beat the fallen champions. Sony Norde assisted all the three goals but he praised the whole unit.
"I won't single out individuals but no doubt Sony is one of the best players playing in India. We have played well as a team. If we played better, we will achieve something more important," he signed off.