The first Kolkata Derby of 2016 between defending I League champions Mohun Bagan and East Bengal ended in a 1-1 draw. The result may have pleased both sets of fans but left a lot to think about for both the coaches.
Mohun Bagan looked out of sorts for almost an hour and sprung to life only after East Bengal scored the goal. The main concern for the Marniers is the void left by the departure of last year’ s marquee player Pierre Boya. The former Cameroonian international played behind the striker in Bagan’ s 4-2-3-1 formation last year and was the spoke of the wheel around which Norde, Katsumi and Balwant played.
Boya exploited the pace between opposition defenders and midfielders and created chances for Norde and Yusa on the left and the right wings and for Balwant upfront. With Boya gone, Mohun Bagan have struggled to create chances and have largely relied on long balls for goals.
Sanjoy Sen’ s mentored side has still persisted with a 4-2-3-1 formation but the lack of a player in the “trequartista” role has affected their attack as was evident in the match against East Bengal when they were outnumbered in the center midfield.
Souvik Chakraborty, Pronoy Halder and Bikramjit Singh are all good in their roles as holding midfielders but have failed to provide the creative spark. Katsumi Yusa drifted in the central midfielder role in the later half of the match against East Bengal but couldn’t make much of an impact. It remains to be seen how Sanjoy Sen resolves this problem going forward in the season.
Another worrying factor for Mohun Bagan is the form of Cornell Glen. The Trinidad and Tobago international might have scored the equalizer for Bagan but struggled for most part of the match. The striker looked short on match fitness, struggled to move past his marker and didn’t show any urgency to fight for the ball.
Their are problems for Biswajit Bhattacharya and East Bengal as well. The Red and Gold brigade are over reliant on Ranti Martins who has single handedly carried the team on his shoulder so far. Martins scored twice against Sporting and played a part in the third while he scored their only goal against Mohun Bagan.
Do Dong has been inconsistent and has looked good only in patches. He is yet to show the form he displayed in the Calcutta Football League. Coming to the middle of the park, the central midfield lacked the creative spark and often the main source of attack were the long balls aimed towards Ranti.
Bikas Jairu on the left flank has looked good in three matches so far and it was his through ball to Ranti that resulted in the goal. Abhinas Ruidas on the right flank looked out of sorts and probably only made it to the first team ahead of Shylo Malsawmtluanga due to the U-22 quota. Former French international defender Bernard Mendy, East Bengal’ s fourth foreigner is expected to play in the midfield and Bhattacharya would hope that his inclusion in the team can revitalize the midfield.
Arnab Mondal didn’t look his best in the match against Mohun Bagan and didn’t have the best of ISL campaigns as well. Mondal has been a crucial player for East Bengal in last few seasons and Bhattacharya would be hoping that the central defender can hit his peak form soon. Injuries are also a concern for East Bengal as both Sehnaj Singh and Cavin Lobo are recovering.
Both sides played an uninspiring brand of football in the first half and lacked creative spark which they would have to sort out in order to challenge Bengaluru FC who look like a well oiled machine at the moment.
With the result Mohun Bagan find themselves at the second spot two points behind league leaders Bengaluru FC while East Bengal are at the third position two points behind the Mariners.
In the battle of I-League debutants, it was Aizawl FC who emerged as 2-0 winners over DSK Shivjians at the picturesque Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Aizawl. Manuel Retamero started from the attack right from the beginning with F. Lalrinpuia and Japanese midfielder Kinowaki in the thick of the things.
Backed by thousands of supporters, Aizawl FC were rewarded when Liberian striker Alfred Jaryan scored in the 18th minute. Kinowaki doubled the lead on the stroke of the halftime as his powerful volley gave Subrata Paul no chance in the goal. DSK tried to equalise in the second half but Aizawl held on for the win. With good performance against Bengaluru and now with a win against DSK, things are looking positive for the Mizo side.
Former I-League champions Salgaocar slumped to their third successive defeat when they went down 2-1 to Mumbai FC at the Cooperage Stadium in Mumbai. The pressure in now mounting on Scottish coach Malky Thomson to deliver a win for the Goan Greens or they would find themselves in the relegation fight.
Defense has been a concern for Salgaocar and they have conceded eight goal so far in the three matches – the highest among all the nine sides. The club has signed Brazilian center-back Eder Monteiro Fernandes who played for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League and will be hoping that he can lend solidity to the back-four which lack a leader.
Mumbai FC made a lot of reinforcements to their side before the I League and Khalid Jamil would be happy to get the first win of the side. Man of the match Taisuke Matsugae and Arata Izumi played a key role in the win for the Mumbai based side.
Bengaluru FC Juggernaut continued to roll on without any fuss as Ashley Westwood coached side beat a happless Shillong Lajong side 3-0 in their first home match of the season. CK Vineeth impressed with his performance once again as he scored the opener inside the first minute itself.
North Korean Kim Song Yong scored his first goal for Bengaluru FC in the 35th minute and then added another at the hour mark. What has been impressive about Bengaluru FC is that Ashley Westwood has rotated his players very well with the new signings getting a chance to prove themselves as well. Alwyn George started his first match for Bengaluru FC and gave a good account of himself. With the win Bengaluru moved to the top of the table while Shillong Lajong dropped to the eight spot.
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