Mohammedan Sporting Club have qualified for the 2020-21 season of the I-League after winning three qualifiers.
The Black Panthers defeated Bhawanipore FC 2-0 at the Kalyani Stadium on Friday, courtesy of goals from Vanlalbiaa Chhangte and Gani Nigam either side of the half-time whistle.
After both Mohun Bagan and East Bengal joined the Indian Super League, merging with ATK and getting backed by Shree Cements respectively, football fans feared for an I-League season without a traditional Kolkata giant participant. Those fears will not come to pass as Mohammedan SC have now qualified for the I-League.
Mohammedan SC qualify for I-League after winning all three qualifiers
Early in the match, a well-rehearsed free-kick routine from Mohammedan ended with Vanlalbiaa Chhangte smashing the ball across the face of the goal, but Shilton Paul kept the ball out of the net.
Philip Adjah struck the post from a corner at the 25th-minute mark. The ball ricocheted off the post, hit Saiful Rehman, and almost went over the goal-line, but just brushed the post on the way out.
Mohameddan opened the scoring on the night with a beautiful exchange of passes between Willis Plaza and Chhangte. A clever flick from Sheikh Faiaz sent Chhangte through on Paul, and he rounded off the goalkeeper and finished into the empty net.
The talented winger has always had a knack of scoring crucial goals, and is being touted as the best 'emerging player' of the tournament.
Gani Nigam scored from another free-kick routine at the end of the third quarter, as he received the ball on the back-post and slammed it over the line. Shilton Paul got his hands on the ball, but couldn't keep it out of his net.
Mohammedan started their I-League qualifiers campaign on a nervy note, as they edged past Garwhal FC 1-0 courtesy of an injury-time goal from Munmun Lugun. The favorites of the tournament then routed ARA FC 4-1, with a brace from Nepalese striker Abhishek Rijal and one goal each from Willis Plaza and Sheikh Faiaz.
The 2020-21 I-League season is still a couple of months away, but Mohammedan SC fans will be eagerly waiting to see their team back in the tournament.Published 16 Oct 2020, 19:18 IST