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I-League 2018-19: Shilton Paul- Sony Norde’s return will boost Mohun Bagan – football news

Winning the Calcutta Football League (CFL) 2018 title after a gap of eight years has encouraged Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Shilton Paul to firmly eye the upcoming I-League title.

The Mariners put up an impressive performance in the local league and Paul hopes that his team would be able to continue the rich vein of form at the national level as well. 

“We haven’t lost any match in pre-season. We have assembled a squad from different parts of the country and the players are gelling very well. We are expecting to win the championship this season. Every club wants to win it but when it comes to Mohun Bagan we play only to win. We tried during CFL and we succeeded in winning it and in I-League we will give our best as well,” Paul confidently put. 

The shot-stopper did look shaky in parts during the CFL and his performance against East Bengal was also not up to the mark. For East Bengal’s first goal, he failed to make a clean save which allowed Johnny Acosta to score on the rebound.

Coach Sankar Lal Chakraborty decided to try Sankar Roy in a few games and the youngster did not disappoint. But Paul is unconcerned about his place in the first-team. 

Mohun Bagan

“CFL is something different from I-League. The coach told us that he wants to give chances to everyone so that everyone can prove themselves and Sankar did really well. I have been playing for Mohun Bagan for 13 years. I have seen players come and go. I don’t think one player can play the whole season. As senior players, we are really glad if the juniors come up and play good football.”

Mohun Bagan were whiskers away from clinching the league title in the previous season. They faltered at home but Paul believes that those are failures of the past. 

“Last year we played good football. But last year we lost some crucial matches at home. Like the one against Gokulam. That knocked us out of the championship race. We have to keep our focus on these matches. This year we did our best in CFL and the boys played wonderful football. Now the aim is to continue that in I-League as well.”

When Paul was asked his opinion on the squad strength of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, he refused to compare the two teams.  

“I am not going to compare our team with any other team. I am going to speak only about my team. As far as our squad is concerned we are doing really great. After eight years we won the CFL. The boys are confident and the juniors have also stepped up their game. The foreign signings are also great. Sony’s return is a great boost to the team. We are expecting a lot from our foreigners,” signed off the keeper. 

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I-League 2018-19: Mohun Bagan rope in Egyptian playmaker Omar Elhusseiny – football news

Mohun Bagan announced the arrival of Omar Elhusseiny as their fifth foreign signing for the upcoming I-League season on Tuesday.

The official statement from the Kolkata giants read, “We are pleased to announce that we have selected Mr. Omar Nabil Rashad Elhussieny an attacking midfield player from Eygpt after consultation with Head Coach Mr. Sankarlal Chakraborty as the fifth foreigner. 

“The player will come to Kolkata and shall undergo a complete medical and physical fitness test. During this time the Head Coach will observe him and after a successful conclusion of the tests, we will sign him.

“He has applied for his visa today and is suppose to receive the same by Thursday, October 11, 2018. The player is most likely to come to Kolkata by Saturday, October 13, 2018.”

The 32-year-old comes from Maltese First Division club Żejtun Corinthians, for whom he scored twice and assisted four goals last season. The Giza-born’s claim to fame came in the 2014-15 season while playing for  Levadia Tallinn.

The Estonian champions demolished San Marino side La Firoita 8-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying round, out of which one goal came from Elhusseiny’s boots. 

Elhusseiny also has prior experience playing in Asia when he turned out for Persela Lamongan in the Indonesia Super League in 2015-16, scoring nine and creating a further 14 in just 19 appearances.

The twelfth edition of the I-League kicks off on 26 October with Bagan opening their campaign the next day away at Gokulam Kerala. The Mariners also confirmed the announcement of their sixth and final foreigner in the next few days.

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East Bengal made to pay for being unprofessional – football news

The Player Status Committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has imposed a transfer ban on East Bengal over irregularities in their failed attempts to sign defender Sukhdev Singh from Minerva Punjab. This ruling effectively prohibits them from registering any player till January 31, 2019. 

Interestingly, Sukhdev, who now plies his trade for Mohun Bagan, has also been banned from playing any competitive match and must pay a fine of Rs 50,000 each to AIFF and Minerva Punjab, as earlier revealed by GBP Sports

East Bengal had approached four Minerva players in April and had them sign ‘draft contracts’, which is basically a contract without legal validity.

Amongst them was Singh, who had a two-year contract with Minerva running till 2019. The Red and Gold officials had contacted the player’s agent instead of the club and upon getting a green signal from the concerned agent, the officials went ahead with the signing. 

While East Bengal opened talks with Sukhdev’s agent, it was stupidity on their part to not consult Minerva or obtain anything on paper from the club before making the player sign a ‘draft contract’. Moreover, the practice of signing a ‘draft contract’ was naive. 

Libero Sports Sukhdev East Bengal

According to Henna Singh, co-owner of Minerva Punjab, the club officials were reluctant to open dialogues with Minerva even when the Punjab-based club offered to settle the matter amicably. 

“In fact, when we tried to get in touch with them (East Bengal), they refused and said they will only speak with the agent,” she told Goal. 

Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan will also be affected as they must look for an alternative if Singh’s ban is not reduced. Although Lalchhawnkima and Eze Kingsley fared well in the Calcutta Football League (CFL)  a lack of options on the bench will be a concern for coach Sankarlal Chakraborty. Gurjinder Kumar has been decent in the local league at times in the center-back role which is a shift from his usual left-back position. But whether he can replicate his performance against better-equipped teams in I-League remains to be seen. 

The transfer ban on a top club like East Bengal has been unprecedented in Indian football and it might not reflect well on the brand image of Quess Corp, the majority stakeholder of Quess East Bengal FC Pvt. Ltd. Although it must be remembered that Quess was not on board when the ‘draft contract’ was signed between the two parties in April. 

“There is an appeal process in the system. We will discuss internally what needs to be done and will act accordingly,” said Sanjit Sen, CEO of QEBFC, to Goal. 

The punishment meted out to East Bengal should act as an eye-opener for other clubs to act more responsibly as such sanctions not only hamper the footballing-project at hand but also tarnishes the reputation of the organization. 

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Mohun Bagan have more productive takeaways from CFL 2018 other than the championship – football news

Sankarlal Chakraborty had his task cut out at the start of the season. Mohun Bagan must stop East Bengal’s juggernaut and land the Calcutta Football League (CFL) 2018 trophy which has eluded them for the past eight years. 

After a 2-0 victory over Calcutta Customs on Wednesday, it was mission accomplished for the head coach. The title celebrations on the final whistle by the fans and officials demonstrated the importance of clinching the local league title after being outclassed by East Bengal for eight successive seasons. 

Enroute to the championship, the team have battled not only on the pitch but also the administrative crisis that has plagued the club since the turn of the season. Credit must be given to Chakraborty who has ensured the team maintained its focus and concentrated only on matters related to football.  

Mohun bagan

While winning titles remains a litmus test, the way Shankarlal Chakraborty gave opportunities to youngsters and managed to come through in the CFL has to be commended.

With the departure of several regulars from last season, the former assistant coach had to start from scratch at the beginning of this season with fresh and inexperienced faces. Stand-out performers, namely Pintu Mahata and Sankar Roy, have been fringe players for the past three seasons whereas Sourav Das had a nightmarish outing in I-League last season.

But in the ongoing CFL, all the three players have put in outstanding shifts to establish themselves as undisputed starters. Mahata showed flashes of brilliance against Tollygunge Agragami and an outstanding performance in the Kolkata derby stamped his authority as the uncontested marksman on the left flank for Mohun Bagan. His pace and agility helps him show a clean pair of heels to his opposite number and his ability to swap flanks and be equally effective are the highlights of his game. 

Pintu Mahata Mohun bagan

Although Das had a shaky start to the league campaign, he has pulled up his socks after the initial round of fixtures. He played an exceptional role in neutralising Mahmoud Al Amna and has been the workhorse for the team. He looks more comfortable on the ball and his short-passing has improved under the tutelage of Chakraborty. Against Customs, he once again displayed his deftness in orchestrating play from the centre of the park.

But young shot-stopper Roy had the most daunting task ahead of him as he had to usurp skipper Shilton Paul under the sticks. The 23-year-old has always repaid the trust shown by Chakraborty and Wednesday was no exception. He came out of his lines and produced a brilliant save in the 14th minute to deny Eze Stanley from scoring the equaliser. In a previous fixture against George Telegraph, it was Roy who ensured three points for Mohun Bagan as he kept out a point-blank header from a flag-kick to preserve Mohun Bagan’s slender 1-0 lead. Paul’s indecisiveness at crucial moments in the league have paved the way for Roy to come back into the starting XI and he has made the most of those opportunities to move up the pecking order. 

Aser Dipanda and Henry Kisekka have also forged a bright partnership in the attacking third and have contributed 16 of the 25 goals scored by Mohun Bagan. The mudcake ground of Bagan has hindered Kisekka from realising his full potential but we witnessed glimpses of his expertise on a sleek Yuva Bharati Krirangan pitch when he took Johnny Acosta for a ride during a one-on-one situation. 

Mohun Bagan

But a lack of plan B might hurt the Kolkata giants on the national stage when they take on mightier and more well-drilled opponents in I-League. It is an open secret that Chakraborty is over-reliant on his wingers and full-backs to create opportunities in the attacking third. The lion’s share of goals have been scored using this tactic but his men have looked a fish out of water whenever they are stifled on the flanks. Even low-key teams Peerless SC and George Telegraph frustrated the Mariners by bottling them up in midfield with lesser space to run down the touchline.

Moreover, a lack of creativity in midfield will land them into trouble against gritty defences which like to park the bus. Although Sourav Das have shown signs of promise, it remains to be seen whether the youngster can maintain his high standards in I-League as well. 

 

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Mohun Bagan president Swapan Sadhan Bose makes sexist remark to hail CFL win – football news

While Mohun Bagan celebrated its 2018 Calcutta Football League (CFL) triumph with a game in hand, club president Swapan Sadhan Bose’s comments during half-time on Wednesday have left a sour taste in the mouth of fans of the club and Indian football alike.

Mohun Bagan already lead 2-0 over Calcutta Customs at the break and the result as it stood meant the Mariners would go onto win their 30th CFL title, their first since 2009.

During the half-time program on broadcaster Sadhna News, the presenter asked Bose how it felt inevitably being the CFL champions after so long, putting an end to arch-rival East Bengal’s monopoly for the last eight seasons.

“Daughters were being born for the last seven years, suddenly a son has been born. How would you like it if that was the case with you? I have the same feeling,” giggled Bose, who is fondly known as ‘Tutu’.

That septuagenarian’s bigoted comments were followed by laughs in agreement by the people who surrounded him and the reporter himself chuckled on the chauvinistic reply to his question out of awkwardness.

While this could be termed as the first recorded case of sexism in Indian football, the administrator’s narrow-mindedness has left fan’s opinions divided while celebrating their team’s win.

Interestingly, Mohun Bagan club members go onto vote to elect their executive committee this month and Bose and his camp are one of the belligerents.

It remains to be seen if his opponents, the Mitra faction, led by Sohini Mitra Chaubey, a woman herself uses this against him.

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CFL 2018: Clinical second-half performance keeps Mohun Bagan’s title challenge on track – football news

It was a tale of two contrasting halves. Mohun Bagan were clearly reeling under the hangover of a lacklustre second-half performance in the Kolkata derby in the opening 45 minutes against FCI. They looked jaded and were lacking sharpness in the attacking third.

After an exhaustive encounter against East Bengal, Britto PM looked out of gas on the wings. Whereas on the opposite flank, Azharuddin Mallick resembled a clueless wanderer. FCI were playing a five-man defence with two pivots operating as defensive screeners which diffused any offensive intent before it could threaten Dhanjoy Adhikari under the sticks.

Bagan’s attacking forays looked haphazard and devoid of any purpose. Arijit Bagui misplaced his crosses into the box whereas Abhishek Ambekar was hardly allowed the space to overlap down the left flank. FCI’s two fullbacks Amit Chakraborty and Biswajit Mondal dispensed their duties with perfection as they were able to thwart Bagan’s wing play – the primary attacking avenue for Sankarlal Chakraborty.

Mohun Bagan

When Bagan finally got the opportunity to open the scoring around the half-hour mark, Henry Kisekka’s profligacy left Chakraborty frustrated. 

Dipanda’s controversial goal at the stroke of half-time provided Mariners the belief and vigour to come back strongly in the second-half and score four more goals.

Mohun Bagan

Credit to Chakraborty as well for his excellent match reading. He made a double change at the break and Mohun Bagan were up and running. He replaced both the wingers and brought on an in-form Pintu Mahata and set-piece specialist Tirthankar Sarkar. While Mahata became the live-wire on the left flank, Sarkar started delivering inch-perfect crosses from set-pieces which compounded the pressure on FCI’s defence.

Sourav Das and Shilton D’Silva started to find pockets of space in midfield which allowed both Ambekar and Bagui to link up better with the wingers. The complexity of the game had changed and Mohun Bagan’s second goal was only a matter of when and not if.

Within 17 minutes of resumption, the Maroon and Greens breached FCI’s defence once again which marked the opening of the floodgates.

Mohun Bagan

FCI’s gritty first-half resistance started vanishing into thin air with each passing minute. Instead of looking to hit on the counter they became more concerned to leave the pitch with a respectable scoreline which further pushed them into their defensive cocoon and in turn, helped Bagan establish their dominance.  

Although Kisekka had left his scoring boots at home, the Ugandan showed exemplary vision to slice open FCI’s defence to set up Bagan’s third. The through ball bisected two blue shirts and fell for Mahata who served a cross on a platter for Dipanda to bury into the net. The Cameroonian completed his hat-trick and also reached double figures in the scoring chart of CFL.  

Mohun Bagan

Sarkar’s impeccable left-foot was the architect behind the last two goals as both were scored from set-pieces. Sarkar has been playing scintillating football this season and was one of the mainstays behind Bengal’s eye-grabbing performance in the Santosh Trophy. Like Mahata, Sarkar has also graduated from Bagan’s youth ranks and the Sodpur-born midfielder can be a trusted lieutenant for Sankarlal in the absence of veteran midfielder Mehtab Hossain, who remains sidelined with an arm injury.

After scoring five, Mohun Bagan have thrown down the gauntlet to arch-rivals East Bengal. The century-old club has currently scored seven more goals than their local rivals having played one more match. East Bengal have a mountain to climb when they face Peerless on Thursday as the defending champions will be looking to bump the score-line to remain hot on Bagan’s tail.

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Indian Football – Alejandro Menendez: East Bengal are a champion club – football news

Ever since the big-money investment from Quess Corp in July, East Bengal fans have been constantly treated to big names gracing the 99-year-old club. After signing Johnny Acosta, who represented Costa Rica in the 2018 World Cup, the Red and Golds have also snapped up former Mexican international Enrique Esqueda.

To lead the team in quest of a maiden I-League title comes in Alejandro Menendez, a connoisseur of youth and also a proven winner in his time at Thai club Buriram United. A character like Menendez only brings East Bengal the best of both worlds – the Spanish flair and Asian pedigree.

East Bengal at the moment, are playing the regional Calcutta Football League, where they face arch-rivals Mohun Bagan on Sunday. Alejandro Menendez and his coaching staff will fly down to the Salt Lake Stadium for the first time ever and witness the iconic ‘Kolkata Derby’ from the stands – a great way to start his sojourn in Indian football.

Goal caught up with the former Real Madrid Castilla manager moments before he boarded a flight en route the City of Joy in an exclusive chat. Below are the excerpts:

Q – Why coach in India? Why did you choose East Bengal?

AM – From the first moment, the offer that was presented to me and the project talked about a team with a lot of history in India and with the entry of the new shareholders, they wanted to grow and get to the top of Indian football; improve the results, and above all, grow in work methodology and consolidate the structure (at the club). They trusted a Spanish coach because they understand that Spanish football is in the elite and that we could contribute many things to return to the top in India, which is what they always were, but now it’s a new stage in the country, in their football, and we have to keep on staying.

Q – What objectives have been marked? How would you be happy with your time in East Bengal?

AM – I understand that I am going to make decisions and to do a good job that makes them grow and professionalize the club. It’s a champion club, and I hope the team keeps winning. At the very least, I hope to have the same success as when I was in Thailand: win some titles, if it can be, always having the perspective that a champion team has. But it is not only the objective but the structure as well. I want to get to professionalize the club and do better. That is, when I pass through the club, there remains an inheritance, a legacy and a methodology that continues without me. Enrich the club, in short.

Q – They wanted you to even lead the youth development project in the academy?

AM – Well, the most important thing is the first team. We have to have a lot of discussions yet with the club. But, they do want me to have a look at youth players. They have a great academy, and as far as possible I will contribute all the experience I have in football. You have to try not only to sign players from outside, but also to improve the local players. I think a team or a club becomes important when those local players get better. There is room for improvement in Indian football, and in that aspect as well, we will be working.

Q – You have 62 players playing in the Spanish first division right now who passed through your hands at one time or another of their careers. What does it tell?

AM – Yes! In Madrid, Sporting, Celta… Players who have grown and who have reached the top. Well, with that idea of work, that conviction and that confidence in myself, I intend to look for the Indian player to have that improvement. Then we’ll see if a new Rodrigo, a Sarabia or a Marcos Alonso appears… I hope so!

Q – What stands out in Indian football and East Bengal? What do you expect to find when you arrive?

AM – I’ve seen the games that East Bengal have played, I’ve seen good players and a champion club. I think the club has great fans, and I hope to find their support for the team and also players with the intention of improving and with a great attitude. If we add those two things with the idea of work that I have, we can think about being successful.

Q – Finally, will you be on time to see the famous Kolkata derby this Sunday?

AM – Yes! It is very important for everyone to be there. The club has made a lot of efforts to get us there, and my staff as well. It is important to see that match being there at the stadium and we will arrive on time. I only hope that we are lucky in the game, we are all already on the same boat and hopefully have a great day, that the players will play with confidence, being themselves, and that we will achieve a great result. Because that will help us in the future for an improvement in our football and a continuity in the results. Hopefully, we are lucky, it is always necessary, that we win, and thus we all start a positive dynamic.

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