Mohun Bagan faced an uphill battle in Kashmir against Real Kashmir FC in their away match yesterday. The temperature was sub-zero, and it even started snowing before the match started. It was the final frontier for the Kolkata outfit, as the members of the team had very little experience of playing in such conditions. Still, the Mariners prevailed, that too with dominance.
Mohun Bagan set up camp in Kashmir a few days before the match, even with the political unrest and extreme weather condition, as head coach Kibu Vicuna wanted his boys to acclimatize. The side reaped the rewards of it, as they eased to a 2-0 win on Sunday. Joseba Beitia and Nongdamba Naorem scored in the second half to help Mohun Bagan win the match and move atop the I-League standings.
The main problem that the outside teams face in Kashmir is the altitude and cold. It is hard for them to breath at this height, and the extreme cold tires the players easily. The twelfth man, Real Kashmir's supporters, are also a major support for the home team, as they come to the stadium in large numbers. Yet, Mohun Bagan overcame all these to spoil the home side's party.
A lot of hope was riding on the latest recruit of the team, Papa Diawara, who has experience of playing in La Liga for Sevilla. He showed a lot of promise in practice, as well as in the match. A solo run through the defences kept the Real Kashmir defenders on their toes, and his menacing presence made the task easier for the Mohun Bagan players.
The Mariners were the dominating side since the beginning, yet they struggled to find the elusive goal. Beitia broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, with Naorem doubling the visitors' lead just a minute later. Kallum Higginbotham, the winger of Real Kashmir, was rendered ineffective by Fran Morante and Daneil Cyrus, with goalkeeper Sankar Roy being brilliant as usual.
This 2-0 victory carried Mohun Bagan to the top of the table. Also, Fran Gonzalez was awarded the Player of the Month for December 2019, after the match. Mohun Bagan now have 10 points from five matches, while Real Kashmir have five points only.Published 06 Jan 2020, 10:32 IST