Mohun Bagan Brings I-League Trophy Home To Bengal After 13 Years
Bengal has always been known as the soccer giant of India. One of the main clubs here is Mohun Bagan, a traditional club which has been carrying forward a legacy. However, despite the reputation of the fabled team from Kolkata, it has been 13 years since it has won a domestic championship, but they finally brought home the I-League title. This is also Kolkata’s first domestic title after 11 years.
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Mohun Bagan Brings I-League Trophy Home To Bengal After 13 Years
Mohun Bagan came face to face with the defending champions Bengaluru FC at the Kanteerva Stadium on 31st May, 2015, and managed to secure a 1-1 draw. Mohun Bagan was already on the cusp of winning the title after they clinched a convincing 2-0 win against Sporting Clube de Goa, in the penultimate round of the 19th I-League Football Tournament at Barasat. During the match against Goa, Shehnaz Singh and Haitian Sony Norde help to attain the position for the maroon-green brigade where they needed just one more point in the final round to grab the championship, with 39 points from 19 games. They had a better goal difference, (+17), in camparison to Bengaluru, who reached the final with 35 points from 18 games and stood at (+16). This meant that even a draw would get them the crown, while Bengaluru FC needed to win the final match to take home the trophy.
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Three time champion from Kolkata finally won the 19th I-League Trophy. In fact, the team deserved its win. One of the main proofs of that is that it had the best defensive record in the tournament. Over the 19 games of this season, Mohun Bagan not only gave an able attack, but also showed the capability to shorn the opposing teams, like true champions. Its high number of goals scored and low number of goals let in made it a tough contender, and the credit falls on Bello Razaq, the Nigerian recruit, with a great defense. Pritam Kotal also played well in the right-back’s role, while Dhanachanda Singh has been an unstoppable left-back. Anwar Ali and Kingshuk Debnath, who partnered with Razaq, are also responsible for the total performance.
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Another reason that made Mohun Bagan a potential contender was that they had the tournament’s best flair players. Katsumi Yusa emerged as an unpredicted attacker. Sony Norde and Sheikh Jamal Dhanmodi were also the underdogs. But these players emerged as some the best in the tournament. Norde was the league’s best forward recruit by mile, and showed a gameplay that confounded the defenders. He made Mohun Bagan one of the potent teams moving forward but also one of the most entertaining. He received great backup from Yusa. Norde and Yusa jointly scored a total of 16 for Mohun Bagan during the league, and have together boosted the team’s possibility to win.
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Mohun Bagan’s exemplary domestic form throughout the series was another one of the many reasons that eventually led the club to its team. Most notably, it was great at the start. In fact, it had a riveting beginning to the I-League campaign, as they went unbeaten for 12 games, and racked up a nine point lead in their chase to attain the title. Even though the team’s performance plummeted at the end of the season, they still maintained the resilience to grab the most wins, with exceptional grit. They also maintained a certain standard, as, even in their 3 losses, they were defeated by only one goal, while remaining unbeaten at their home ground.
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Mohun Bagan’s superior foreign recruitment and excellent team cohesion have also played an important part in the team’s win. Their foreign recruitment policy had been criticized by the analysts and fans in the previous season, as the exhilarating spirit that the fans had hoped for was missing, with the Kolkata team finishing eighth. But, in the current season, they have become quite a precedent, and in the future, other players might treat them as a model, having smartly brought the likes of Sony Norde, Pierre Boya and Bello Razaq, and added flair in the right temperament. Razaq and Norde were at their best in the league, and lived up to the expectation placed upon them by the team management, as they gave stellar performances in defense and attack. Yusa was the only one who could not show his full calibre.
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While the foreign recruitment left their impact, the Indian players on the team were also immensely confident, as they went on to surprise many neutrals. Sehraj Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Denson Devadas were midfield mainstays as they gave match-winning shows. Pritam Kotal became a defense lynchpin in the right back slot, and his grand performance against Royal Wahingdoh culminated in a wonder goal. Balwant Singh, despite his goal-scoring patch, was unable to give his best, while Jeje Lalpekhlua, who struggled with his injury, showed improvement of his form during the season.
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Another big reason that eventually led the I-League trophy to Bengal is the meticulous Sanjoy Sen, the former coach of Mohammedan Sporting who took over Mohun Bagan’s hot seat. He was welcomed with dull acknowledgements, but within 5 months, he managed to change the game for the team, quite literally. He meticulously prepared his team individually for the games, and despite being criticized sometimes, the team’s performance has spoken volumes about his leadership. He has always been less interested about oppositions, and makes sure that he preps his team in such a way that they are imposing enough to crush the opponent. This is because, he maintains immense faith in his team.
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During the match, Bengaluru drew first blood as John Johnson scored in the 41st minute. The hosts hung onto their lead in the first half, and the Bengali fans nearly lost hope, until, in the 87th minute, Razaq scored the equalizer, to revive their hope. Even though the repeated misses by Mohun Bagan brought out some screams of disappointment from the fans of Mohun Bagan, they broke into a huge cheer as Razaq led the ball past the goalkeeper Ralte, and ended the five-year drought for the City of Joy.