Mohun Bagan with a return of 23 goals in 24 games in the previous I-League campaign and with the clubs talismanic striker, Odafa Okolie deciding to join the club that made him the superstar that he is today (Churchill Brothers), Mohun Bagan roped in the likes of Balwant Singh from Churchill and Haitian national Sony Norde from Sheikh Jamal Dhanmundi, to solve their problems upfront .
Balwant is a product of the famous JCT Football Team which has seen players like Sunil Chettri, Baichung Bhutia ,I.M.Vijayan , Joe Paul Ancheri ,etc grace their teams colors. He got promoted to their first team in 2008 and after their relegation to the 2nd division in 2011 ,Balwant joined Salgocar FC. After 2 years at the club and failing to gain regular playing time he joined Goan rivals and reigning champions Churchill Brothers. He scored 4 goals in 5 matches to lead Churchill to the 2013-14 Federation Cup . He was the only shining light in a disastrous League campaign for Churchill Brothers, scoring 40% of the clubs goals in the league.His contribution saved Churchill by 1 point to stay in India’s premier division.He also scored 3 goals in the club’s AFC cup campaign as they progressed to the round of 16.His performances did not go unnoticed , as the FPAI awarded him The Best Indian Player Of The Year.
Balwant first caught the eyes of Mohun Bagan officials , by giving a man of the match performance against them in the Federation Cup ,on 23rd January ,2014 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Balwant scored in the 4th minute as Churchil won 2-1. He gave a man of the match performance against Mohun Bagan, by scoring both goals in a 2-2 draw ,when the two sides met in the league on 21st February,2014. He scored a total of 17 goals last season for Churchil Brothers , playing alongside Costa Rican strike partner Cristian Lagos and Mohun Bagan fans will be hoping he can replicate that type of form alongside new strike partner Pierre Boya and Jeje.
On Saturday ,19th July Mohun Bagan announced they had signed the former Churchill player ,to further state their intentions of challenging on all fronts in the upcoming season. The former Churchill striker joins the likes of Pierre Boya and Jeje ,who have been signed by the green and maroons this year. The last time Bagan went for a star studded attacking line up , recruiting the likes of Odafa Okolie and Tolgey Ozbey it didn’t fare very well for the club. This time around with the signing of Balwant easily the best dribbler in the box in the League ,fans will be excited as they have signed a player who not only has a lot of quality and experience but also who has a lot of character on the field and is a leader on the pitch.
On 23rd July,2014 Mohun Bagan announced the signing of Sony Norde as their 4th foreigner.In the 2014 IFA Shield campaign , Norde performed brilliantly for his team Sheikh Jamal Dhanmundi. He was the top scorer in the IFA Shield with 4 goals ,leading his team to the finals, where they lost to Mohammedan on penalties.He caught the eye of Mohun Bagan officials when his solitary goal,from a set-piece helped Dhanmundi seal a victory against them and knock them out from the IFA Shield 2014.
Norde who has a vast experience and has played for the likes of Boca Juniors,will certainly be an asset for the Green and Maroon Brigade this season. Known for his ability on the ball , he is a very good dribbler and has raw pace which he can use to torment the opposition. Norde can play anywhere in Midfield and can also play as a back up striker when required .known for his goal getting ability from midfield and his Free-Kicks ,Mohun Bagan fans will be hoping they will get to see the abilities that they had been given a glimpse of during Norde’s IFA Shield Campaign.
Mridul Banerjee and Subhash Bhowmick will be hoping the signing of Balwant Singh will give them more options , as they can use him on the right flank while going for a 4-2-3-1 formation .Balwant is a fantastic dribbler and a good crosser of the ball , so he will be very effective in this formation.With the club completing the deal to bring Sony Norde to the club, an attacking line-up of Balwant, Katsumi, Sony and Boya will be a nightmare for defenders across the country. Katsumi has a good creative mind, so he will be a menace in the number 10 role, as well as his ability to run at defenders will be causing a lot of problems for the opposition.
Subhash and Mridul can also opt for a 4-4-2 formation with Balwant Singh and Pierre Boya as their main strikers, this is a position Balwant is more used to and he will be more comfortable in, being a natural goalscorer .Sony can drift on the Right flank and Katsumi on the Left hand side and both having pace in abundance will be a constant threat and the likes of Boya and Balwant will be getting quality service from them and we all know what they are capable of, if they get proper service form their teammates.
Hopefully The Green and Maroon brigade will be hoping that this attacking line-up alongwith Indian national Jeje ,can live up to their expectation and deliver on the big stage.Last year Bagan managed a meager return of 23 goals, in 24 league games and the maanger Karim Bencherifa tried different options , even going on to play Anyichie Echezona, their central defender in attack and signing the likes of Eric Muranda and Christopher Chizoba to fill the problem area,unfortunately nothing paid off. But they certainly have moved fast this season capturing the likes of Jeje, Pierre Boya , Balwant and Sony Norde to solve their attacking crisis and these addition makes Mcdowells Mohun Bagan a team to look out for .Hopefully this year the Kolkata Giants can go on to fight for the title with the likes of Bengaluru FC , Dempo and their local rivals Kingfisher East Bengal.