Mohun Bagan were ambling ahead at a rather slow pace, for the first 28 minutes against Mumbai FC, before the introduction of playmaker Yusa Katsumi changed the entire complexion of the game.

Katsumi scored within seven minutes of coming on, to ease the nerves of an already charged up crowd at the Barasat Stadium, on Sunday.

“Katsumi coming on made a lot of difference. But the team was already in good flow [even before he came on],” said Shankarlal Chakraborty, who was standing in for Mohun Bagan gaffer Sanjoy Sen, who is having to serve out an eight-match touchline ban.

Shankarlal also went on to explain why the Mariners were finding it a bit difficult on the opening exchanges of the game. He said, “They started with five defenders. So there was some difficulty in the innitial stages, because we are used to playing against back-fours. Since we were up against five defenders, it took some time to break them down.”

Sanjoy Sen always in contact with Bagan

The overwhelming backdrop to the match between Mohun Bagan and Mumbai FC was the fact that Sanjoy Sen was having t serve out an eight-match touchline ban for making derogatory comments about the All India Football Federation (AIFF), after the Mariners’s AFC Champions League qualifiers victory against Tampines Rovers FC.

While Sen was absent from the touchline, thousands of Bagan fans sported masks of the Mohun Bagan gaffer, in protest against the AIFF’s decision. In fact, according to reports, there were more than 10,000 masked Sanjoy Sens at the Barasat Stadium on Sunday.

When asked about the impact that Sen’s absence has had, Shankarlal said that the gaffer might not have been there at the dugout, but he was always in contact with the team.

“See, Sanjoy-da is still there. He may not be in the dugout, but we are always in contact with him,” said Shankarlal. “Whenever you’re in a coaching position at a big club anywhere in the world, there’s always a big challenge [like this].”

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