Six tournaments – three champions titles and two runners-up trophies. This might be regarded as an overwhelmingly satisfactory season for most of the clubs – but not for the ever-demanding supporters of Kingfisher East Bengal, who unanimously reckon this to be another mediocre season at best. Two factors which hurt the Red-&-Gold faithful in 2011-12 season are their inability to get the better of arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in any of the encounters and of course the disappointment of being the second best team in I-League behind champions Dempo.

It was a topsy-turvy season for East Bengal to be precise, where they had to cope up with injury to key players at some crucial junctures as well as being at the receiving end of some controversial referring blunders. In this season review, TheHardTackle evaluates the performance of East Bengal as a team and analyzes the season defining moments.

Key Highlights of The Season:

  • Clinching a record 33rd Kolkata Football League (CFL) Crown.
  • Getting the better of 2010-11 I-League Champions Salgaocar SC in the “Battle of Champions” – Super Cup.
  • Lifting the IFA Shield Crown for a record 28th time.

The Low-Blows:

  • Disappointing campaign in AFC Cup – where they lost all six group league matches.
  • Losing out to Salgaocar in Federation Cup final.
  • Inability to win even a single encounter against arch-rivals Mohun Bagan in the entire season.

Best Performer of The Season

Penn Orji:

Penn - East Bengal's best player of the season

It’s a tough call between Australian goal-machine Tolgay Ozbey and Nigerian creative midfielder Penn Orji. The diminutive Nigerian was in sublime touch throughout the season. Although at the very beginning of the season, Trevor Morgan was inclined towards giving more chances to the new Scottish recruit Allan Gow and Penn was relegated to substitute bench for a few games, gradually he proved his worth with every appearance and stamped his authority to become an indispensable player in the Red-&-Gold midfield. In Mehtab Hossain’s prolonged absence due to injury, Penn shouldered the responsibility of marshalling the Red-&-Gold midfield and did tremendously well. His wholesome performance against Dempo in I-League first leg match at Kolkata deserves special mention. From a statistical view-point, Penn notched up 11 goals in all tournaments and came up with 17 assists.

Top Performers

Uga Okpara

For the second season running, the towering Nigerian was the pillar of East Bengal defense. Opkara not only guided a talented but inexperienced East Bengal defense to its full potential, but also chipped in with a few crucial goals from dead ball situations to cap off an all-round display.

Tolgay Ozbey

The Australian goal-machine continued from where he had left at the end of last season, finding the back of the net with remarkable consistency. Tolgay scored 25 goals for East Bengal in all competitive matches, including 17 goals in I-League which earned him the third position behind Ranti Martins and Odafa Okolie in I-League 2011-12 top scorer chart.

Mehtab Hossain

The AIFF Player of the season 2010-11 had to battle out recurring injury woes  at the beginning of the season, but staying true to his fighter tag, he came out strongly and provided the much needed vision to East Bengal’s midfield creativity during the later part of the season.

Most Disappointing Player of The Season

Baljit Sahni

Going by the the level of performance in the recently concluded season, it will be fair to say that the former JCT FC striker’s association with East Bengal is going to end sooner than later. At times Baljit seemed like a liability on the pitch. He was given ample opportunities by Trevor James Morgan to prove his worth, – especially when Robin Singh was sidelined due to injury – but unfortunately he failed to live up to the expectations and managed to score only two goals in this I-League campaign.

Best Match of The Season

East Bengal 2-1 Dempo SC

In a Round-9 I-League encounter between the eventual Champions and the Runner-ups, East Bengal came from behind to notch up a crucial 2-1 win at the Salt Lake stadium. Dempo started the away match brightly and took the lead inside first ten minutes. Godwin Franco, playing alongside Peter Carvalho at the centre of the park, justified his place in the starting line-up by setting up Clifford Miranda for the opening goal. However, it was only a matter of time before East Bengal brought things back on level terms following a failed clearance by Mahesh Gawli that went straight to Tolgay Ozbey. The Australian striker headed the ball towards goal and Penn Orji, who had the simplest of tasks to head in from close range, did not make any mistake to equalize at the half hour mark. Ten minutes later, East Bengal delighted the home crowd by taking the lead when another sloppy defensive display allowed Tolgay to snatch the ball and slot in an empty net. Dempo tried all the tricks in the bag to find the equalizer, but a resolute show by Uga Okpara led East Bengal defense helped the Red-&-Gold brigade garner all three points.

East Bengal performance review 2011-12 season

Tolgay on his way to score against Dempo

Most Disappointing Match of The Season:

Lajong FC 2-1 East Bengal

In hindsight, this Round-20 match eventually cost East Bengal the I-League title. The Red-&-Golds were expected to hoard all three points from their away encounter against Lajong FC in Shillong, but buoyed by the constant cheering from a highly enthusiastic home crowd, Pradyum Reddey’s men produced a giant-killing performance. Tolgay Ozbey gave East Bengal an early lead in the fourth minute of the match, which was cancelled out by Johney Menyongar with in the first quarter of the match. Much to the frenzy of the home supporters, talented Eugeneson Lyngdoh then capitalized on a defensive lapse to give Lajong 2-1 advantage going in to the half time breather. After the change of ends, East Bengal utilized all their available resources but failed to create anything substantial and by the end of stipulated 90 minutes time, the North Eastern outfit notched up a memorable victory over their illustrious opponents.

Best Goal of The Season

Tolgay Ozbey (Vs Chirag United Kerala)

At an average of 1.8 goals per game, East Bengal found the back of the net 46 times in their latest I-League campaign and a number of those goals were spectacular to say the least. However one goal that the fans will cherish for years to come is definitely Tolgay Ozbey’s mesmerizing strike against Chirag United Kerala. In the 32nd minute of the match – with the Red-&-Golds leading by a goal to nil – Tolgay Ozbey got hold of the ball from a defense-splitting Mehtab Hossain pass and after spectacularly dribbling past two defenders from the midfield, he placed the ball perfectly past Chirag custodian Sharath to double East Bengal’s lead.

Best XI of The Season

East Bengal Best XI of the season 2011-12


  • animesh guha

    Very well written. My only complain is Sandip’s selection ahead of Gurpreet.

    • Umrangshu

      Sandip’s selection is perfectly ok in my opinion. Agreed he didn’t have a great season by his own high standards and Gurpreet is really talented but Gurpreet’s inexperience has cost EB few matches. Example that injury time goal against Prayag United when he went up to Prayag box hoping to score from a corner. Gurpreet is good in stopping penalty but becoz of his faulty his positioning from set pieces he often conceded goals from free kicks. Also he has to learn how to organize defense wall.

  • Sourya Jana

    A great concern for East Bengal is the form of Uga Okpara. He was nowhere of his form of the previous season. Keeping in mind of this season, I think Raju and Gurwinder should have been be a better choice in the central defence. And Nirmal is anyday better than Saikat in the right back position.

  • ripan roy

    i agree with sourya.raju gaekwad is most promising,watch out for semilen.he has talent.i disagree with vashum selection