Durand Cup 2019: Mohun Bagan edge past Mohammedan Sporting 2-0 | Match report
Mohun Bagan created sparks under a floodlit Salt Lake Stadium against Mohammedan Sporting Club’s clinch their first victory of the season by a 2-0 margin. A strong first-half display was enough to see off their long-time rivals in the opening match of the 2019 Durand Cup. Salva Chamorro’s first-half brace sealed the deal for 16-time champions. The ‘Black Panthers were below average throughout and lacked the sting in the striking zone.
The thousands of Bagan followers who gathered at the stadium on a rain-soaked evening will be pleased with the way the team played. The first match of the season is quite crucial for any team and the ‘green and maroon’ brigade enjoyed one of their best season openers in recent time. The win will give them enough oxygen for the remainder of the tournament, but their second-half display was not fruitful and has to be reflected upon.
Story of the match
Spanish recruits were right on the money for Mohun Bagan. Striker Salva Chamorro just took a couple of minutes to get his name on the scoresheet via a header. It was the other Spaniard, Jseba Beitia, who provided the assist. ‘The Mariners’ continued to dictate terms after having the lead, with their Indian contingent also joining the party. Ashutosh Mehta’s inch-perfect cross in the 21st minute was well connected by Salva, completing his brace by another header.
Even though Mohammedan Sporting Club tried to restore parity by playing some passing football at the end of the first half, they were hardly effective. The ‘Black Panthers’ nearly scored their first goal, but Arthur Kouassi’s header was saved brilliantly by Bagan’s custodian, Shilton Paul. Tirthankar Sarkar wasted a golden opportunity in the closing stages of the game, had only the keeper to beat but struck a yard away from the target.
Youngsters Romario Jesuraj and Nongdamba Naorem produced moments of brilliance in the wings, often piercing through the defence. Veterans Ashutosh Mehta and Dhanachandra Singh were playing their part as side-backs, while midfielder Srabuddin Mollik impressed too. With the long season ahead, the fitness of the players will be a vital aspect for the team. The coach needs to rotate the players juggling between Durand Cup and Calcutta League fixtures.
Kibu Vicuna (Mohun Bagan coach)
Mohun Bagan's coach Kibu Vicuna was a pleased man after the match, he lauded the efforts of his team. He feels that having all foreigners from Spain helps a lot in the long run, although the Indian players are the backbone of the squad.
"Yes of course it helps. We play the same style of football. But the most important is the Indian players. The foreigners are supporting them. It’s important that we communicate well in the field and speak the same language (of football)," said the coach.
Regarding the electrifying atmosphere created by the crowd at the Salt Lake stadium, he said,
"I want to congratulate the supporters who came here. It was a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium. It was the first match and during the upcoming games, we will get fitter physically. We have some things to improve and yet there were some positives from the match."
In spite of the win, Kibu feels the team has a lot of scope for improvement. When asked what are the areas the team needs to improve, he said,
"Everything, even the best teams in the world, they are not complete. We need to improve technically, tactically and physically. We played very well throughout the match, we controlled the game. Even in the second half, we were more dominant although we didn’t go to score more goals. But it was a risk that was not worth taking."
Salva Chamorro (Mohun Bagan)
Spanish forward Salva was the main highlight of the match, scoring the decisive goals. The man of the match feels that this was the beginning and needs to establish himself in India as he did in other countries.
During the post-match conference, he said, "I am very happy that the supporters were vocal throughout the match. Happy to give them one good night. In Spain and Portugal, I had many good moments but I need to establish myself in India. Hopefully, in the future, I would score more goals."
Mohun Bagan will be up against city rivals ATK at their club ground on August 8. A win on Thursday will almost ensure them a place in the semi-finals of the Cup. Even though they will be in action in the Calcutta Football League on Monday for their opening game against Peerless SC.
Meanwhile, Mohammedan Sporting Club will face the likes of Indian Navy at the Mohun Bagan ground on August 10. The Subrata Bhattacharya led team win to needing no less than a win to stay alive in the competition.