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Top five Karim Bencherifa – Trevor Morgan clashes

Amoy Ghoshal
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 08 Feb 2013
Top 5 / Top 10

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Tomorrow’s  Big Kolkata Derby will be the ninth meeting between Karim Bencherifa and Trevor James Morgan, with the latter leading the head-to-head with five wins to three. The last of those wins for Morgan however was the 3-0 victory that was awarded to East Bengal after Mohun Bagan refused to come out in the second half in that notorious derby clash on December 9.

Sportskeeda lists the top five clashes between these two successful tacticians.

1. Salgaocar 3-2 East Bengal (I-League 2010-11)

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The game was Salgaocar’s last chance to take an initiative in the title race, as despite being three points ahead, East Bengal had two games in hand. Trevor Morgan looked on the verge of winning the I-League in his first season in Indian football as goals from Tolgay Ozbey and Baljit Sahni gave East Bengal a 2-0 lead in the first half. But Karim Bencherifa’s Salgaocar pulled one back before halftime through Rino Anto, and they put plenty of pressure on East Bengal’s make-shift center-back pairing of Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Sunil Kumar. The hosts eventually equalised through Cajetan Fernandes in the 80th minute, and then former East Bengal player Yusif Yakubu completed the comeback five minutes from the 90. The loss turned out to be the knockout blow for East Bengal, as they lost to Churchill Brothers in the next match and eventually finished second while Bencherifa’s Salgaocar went on to win the I-League.

2. East Bengal 1-3 Salgaocar (Federation Cup 2011 Final)

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Having transformed Salgaocar from relegation fighters to I-League champions, Karim Bencherifa was now eyeing the Federation Cup and guided the Goan side to the final without conceding a goal in their first four matches. Holders East Bengal were less impressive, but made their way out of the group of death and were favourites as the final was being played at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium. More than 60,000 came to cheer for East Bengal, but just like in the 1997 final it was Salgaocar who emerged victorious. An early injury to the indispensable Mehtab Hossain didn’t help East Bengal’s cause as Edeh Chidi put Salgaocar in front, before Francis Fernandes added the second. The red-and-gold brigade pulled one back through a controversial penalty, which was converted by Scotsman Alan Gow. But their hopes of a comeback was ended midway through the second period as Japanese Ryuji Sueoka profited from East Bengal custodian Sandip Nandy’s mistake to make it 3-1. Salgaocar lifted their fourth Federation Cup crown while East Bengal were denied a hattrick of titles.

3. Salgaocar 4-0 East Bengal (I-League 2011-12)

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The Federation Cup finalists were struggling in the I-League, and four months after that final, went head-to-head in an important clash in Margao. Salgaocar in particular were having a mediocre campaign as they found themselves at the bottom half of the table. East Bengal needed a win to maintain their title challenge, but their chances suffered a huge blow after just 17 minutes when Mehtab was sent off following two yellows. Salgaocar almost immediately made their numerical advantage count as Francis Fernandes gave them the lead. With the game entering the final quarter, East Bengal still trailed 1-0 and pushed plenty of bodies forward to get equaliser, and that saw them get severely punished as Salgaocar scored thrice in the last 23 minutes through Sueoka, Junior Elijah and a Nirmal Chettri own goal. Things went from bad to worse for East Bengal, as after the game it was revealed that Tolgay and Mehtab had an altercation that left two broken chairs in the visitors’ dressing room.

4. East Bengal 0-0 Salgaocar (East Bengal won 9-8 on penalties) (Indian Super Cup 2011)

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I-League and Federation Cup champions Salgaocar met the runners-up of both those competitions East Bengal in what could turn out to be the last-ever Indian Super Cup. Having narrowly missed out on the two major trophies to Salgaocar, East Bengal fans probably felt they were due a win against the Goan side, but both teams failed to score in the 90 minutes and there was no real entertainment for the fans at Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium as there were was hardly any goalmouth action. The match went to penalties, and after both sides had successfully converted their first four penalties, East Bengal’s young keeper Gurpreet Sandhu saved Jaspal Parmar’s effort. However, Ravinder Singh was denied by Salgaocar custodian Karanjit Singh as the shootout went to a sudden death. The teams kept their nerves in the sudden death too until Salgaocar defender Khelemba Singh rattled the bar at 8-8. East Bengal youngster Saikat Saha Roy had the chance to win the game and he made no mistake, as Morgan defeated Bencherifa for the first time in three matches.

5. East Bengal 1-0 Salgaocar (I-League 2010-11)

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This was the first-ever I-League meeting between these two successful coaches, and it was Morgan who triumphed. Salgaocar came into this game as league leaders, but East Bengal were on a four-match winning run and both sides were yet to lose. Something had to give, and it was East Bengal who made the most of their home advantage by dominating possession from start to finish. However the red-and-gold brigade had to wait until the 59th minute to break the deadlock, with Tolgay finally opening the scoring. East Bengal had plenty of chances to increase their advantage, but were wasteful. However, the hosts limited Salgaocar, the league’s top scorers, to only half chances and ran out 1-0 winners. The fifth-straight win looked to have given East Bengal momentum in the title race, while Bencherifa played down his team’s chances after their first defeat, stating: “We are not contenders.” And that lack of pressure and expectation seemed to favour Salgaocar in the end, as they were crowned champions in May while Morgan’s East Bengal settled for silver.

Published 08 Feb 2013
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