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Durand Cup: The team is showing personality and character, says Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna after 2-1 win over city rivals ATK | Match Report

SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
08 Aug 2019, 22:05 IST

Mohun Bagan are almost through to the semi-final of the Durand Cup
Mohun Bagan are almost through to the semi-final of the Durand Cup

Mohun Bagan got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over city rivals ATK at their club ground to set a foot in the knock-out stages of the Durand Cup. After a disastrous 0-3 loss against Peerless in the Calcutta Football League a couple of days ago, this win will be a huge relief for the entire team ahead of the upcoming fixtures.

Fran Morante’s strike in the 34th minute opened the scoring for Mohun Bagan. Midfielder Joseba Beitia scored the second for Bagan in the opening minutes of the second half. ATK scored one in the 78th minute, but Mohun Bagan held its nerve to secure three vital points.


Story of the match

Spanish coach Kibu Vicuna started with two foreigners at the heart of the defence, unlike the last match where it was an all-Indian back four. This move reaped results, as the defence looked much more compact and reliable. The Mariners got an opportunity to score as early in the 2nd minute, which was not connected well by forward VP Suhair.

In the 34th minute, Beitia’s corner kick was headed into the net by Fran Morante to give Bagan the lead. In the closing minutes of the first half, The Mariners almost doubled the lead. Young Naorem made a run down the right and released the ball to Gurjinder Kumar. The defender hit a long cross directed towards Romario Jesuraj, but the latter’s header came back after it hit the post

Even though Bagan took some time to gain some rhythm, it’s better late than never. The green and maroon brigade soon scored its second. VP Suhair, who was impressive throughout, snatched away a loose ball from ATK’s defender in the 54th minute. He passed the ball to Beitia, who shot the ball into the back of the net to give his team a two-goal cushion.

Suhair was instrumental in shaping up yet another goalscoring opportunity for Bagan in the 65th minute. After getting past the goalkeeper, he made a lateral pass to Romario Jesuraj, who just needed a touch in front of the unguarded net, but he missed the ball completely. An unpardonable defensive lapse helped ATK to pull one back in the 78th minute of the match, with Ashish Pradhan scripting his name on the scoresheet.

It was a much-improved display by Mohun Bagan, but still, there has been a lot of loopholes in their game. Ashutosh Mehta often lost possession at critical moments, which could have had worse consequences. Trailing by two goals, ATK played well under pressure. 

Young Komal Thatal’s long ranger almost went in, but Bagan’s custodian Shankar Roy fisted the ball over the crossbar. Meanwhile, Surabbudin Mollick was given his marching orders in additional time of the second half after a heated exchange with the ATK players.


Post-match views

Kibu Vicuna (Mohun Bagan, coach)

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Tactician Kibu Vicuna was not inclined to investigate the shortcomings of the match, instead giving more importance to the positives from the match. Although he mentioned that the pitch was inferior and they could have easily scored more goals.

During the post-match press conference, he said, “We are satisfied with the play. The pitch was not up to the mark. We could have scored five or six in the first half. We were better defensively. In the second half also, we created a few chances but again because of the pitch and physical condition we suffered in the last 20 minutes. The team is showing personality and character.”

“We did have problems but we were better for around 70 minutes of the match. The defence played well today and they had only another chance that was also a long ranger,” added the coach.

Fran Morante (Mohun Bagan)

The Spanish stopper feels that they are still not acclimatised with the weather and pitch conditions, the team is in its development stage. “We are in a process. We are taking time to adapt to the weather, the pitch condition. The team is improving but we need more time to develop. We had a lot of chances. We have quality strikers and if we create chances we will score goals.” said Morante after the match.

He added, “It is difficult to play in two competitions simultaneously. Also, it is difficult to practice our philosophy in this pitch. But we have to adapt to every condition. I think we adapted well today and we won.” Mohun Bagan is playing the Durand Cup and the Calcutta Football League simultaneously.


What's next?

Mohun Bagan will play its final group stage fixture against the Indian Navy at the Salt Lake Stadium on August 17.

Meanwhile, ATK has been eliminated from the tournament, they will face the likes of Mohammedan Sporting Club in their final fixture on August 16.

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