The Black Panthers are finally back to the league where they belong. Mohammedan SC finished runners up in the 2012/13 I-League 2, bagging a slot in the premier division of Indian Football. Established in 1891, Mohammedan Sporting Club is among the oldest football clubs India and their fans finally get something to cheer about after a long hiatus from top division football.
The eleven time Kolkata League champions are raring to go under the new and fresh mentorship of Abdul Aziz Masood Bola. The former Nigerian international has promised wonders with the set of players at his disposal this season.
Goalkeepers: Sukhwinder Singh, Ashok Singh, Sarath K, Somnath Khara
Out of all the departments in the newly assembled squad, one does not need rocket science knowledge to see that the goalkeeping department is one which could turn out to be the weak link. With no big names under the bar for the Black Panthers, the administration and their chief coach have pinned their hopes on some of the young and bright prospects.
Sukhwinder Singh, former JCT cadet, plied his trade with Air India last season. He was observed putting in some stellar performances for the institutional side and hence was roped in. Similar is the case with Ashok Singh. The Manipuri lad has been signed from Sporting Clube where he spent most of his career. After two successful spells for the Goan club, Ashok will be all geared up for a new challenge.
Apart from these two, the Black Panthers have secured the services of two young prodigies – Sarath K and Somnath Khara. Goalkeeping coach Gilani is expecting to groom them and eventually pop them in tournaments like Durand Cup, where the youngsters can learn and improve.
Defenders: Luciano Sabrosa, Sandeep Sangha, WarunDeep Singh, Dinesh Singh, Justine Stephen, Baldeep Singh, Naushad K, Phoolchand Hemram, Fazal Rehman, Sukhdeb Murmu, Dhanrajan, Gagandeep Singh.
Clearly with an intention to strengthen their squad at the back, as the team gears up to lock horns with the best in business in India – Mohammedan SC think tank wasted no time in signing Luciano Sabrosa. The Brazilian veteran was roped in from Salgaocar where the 34 yr old spent his prime days and captained the Goan side to an I-League triumph. Alongside his experience, the Kolkata side also got young Sandeep Sangha to sign the dotted agreement. The sturdy defender was roped in from ONGC and just like other signings as he had a strong last season for the Mumbai club. Another shrewd signing is of Warundeep Singh at the back, who has previously plied his trade with teams like Churchill Brothers, Sporting Clube. Top this with the captain fantastic for the Black-&-White brigade at the right back position – Dhanrajan.
The other players will be rotated at the back depending on the competition and injuries in the squad over the course of the season. All in all, this squad of defenders could break down as the season reaches its climax, owing to the age of many defenders, but it all depends on how Abdul Aziz deploys them.
Midfielders: Penn Orji, Khantang Paite, Collin Abranches, J.Prasad, Anthony Soren, Charan Rai, Jerry, Basanta Singh, Israil Gurung, Gouranga Dutta, Heman Singh.
Another big addition adding substantial teeth to the midfield was of Penn Orji from East Bengal. Penn was in top form, guiding the other Kolkata club into the AFC Cup quarter finals, when the Nigerian surprised everyone by signing for the Black Panthers. With him playing on the top of the diamond in the midfield, the other positions are also well covered. Khantang Paite was signed from East Bengal, after the zippy Mizo was unhappy following his loan to Pune FC.
Other players having I-League experience are also looped in the midfield engine to keep it running for other tournaments. Former Churchill Brothers prodigy Israil Gurung is a more than decent left winger along with Gouranga Dutta. Right flank responsibilities would be shouldered by another dynamic playe r- Chran Rai, along with Jerry Zirsanga. Jerry, who was bought from Churchill Brothers, played a pivotal role in the promotion of the club from the second division, would be the player to watch out.
Strikers: Josimar D Silva, Tolgay Ozbey, Ashim Biswas, Ajay Singh, Dipendu Biswas, Monirul Mondal.
To survive in the top flight football, every team needs a set of good strikers to hit the back of the net when ever presented with the opportunity. The Black Panthers wasted no time in signing the Aussie hit man Tolgay Ozbey from Kolkata rivals Mohun Bagan to accomplish the aforementioned task. The big Brazilian, Josimar D Silva, has also signed the dotted line for the Black-&-Whites. He is expected to partner Ozbey upfront in most of the I-league matches, with support from Ashim Biswas. Mohammedan SC has also managed to secure the services of former JCT sensation Ajay Singh from Churchill as the Punjabi striker could not garner quality playing time for the Goan side.
Along with them, veteran Dipendu Biswas, who has scored over two hundred goals in Indian football, is acquired with an eye to score goals against less fancied opponents in the Calcutta Football League and Durand Cup. Young prodigy Monirul Mondal is now ready to take display his talent on the big stage. He is expected to be the surprise package upfront with the two foreigners, fighting for his place with Ashim and Ajay. Monirul has been pivotal for the Black Panthers in recent editions of CFL.
Founded as the Jubilee club in 1891, there is a lot of history involved around the club. Famous for their prolific fan following in Kolkata, the club has automatically set mighty expectations among the fans, especially after signing high profile players in the transfer window. After parting ways with head coach Sanjoy Sen in May, Nigerian Abdul Aziz took over the helm at the club. One of the top priorities for the club would be avoiding the drop and securing an I-league position next season.
The team will start of their season with 126th Durand Cup in Delhi where the club is grouped in the third group along with Kalighat FC and Army Green. The club would be expected to at least reach the last four, if not win the tournament.
Kolkata Football league – The eleven time winners would be hoping to better their performance in the KFL, after a dismal display in the last edition. Black Panthers finished sixth, winning just three games out of eight. With the addition of new impact players in the roaster, Mohammedan SC would be hoping to do well this season, if not a top three finish.
The full team will be soon seen in action as the 35th Federation Cup commences. The Black-&-White fans would be eagerly waiting to see their team in action against top quality sides before the I-League kicks off. The two time Federation Cup winners are grouped alongside arch rivals Bhawanipore, Goan giants Dempo SC and United Sikkim. With the new side and coach all set to roll, it will be an year of expectations from the already demanding fans.