The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The derby beckons

I-League 2016, India’s biggest football league, began on 8th January. And the first derby of Kolkata (for the uninitiated, the face-off between the biggest names of Bengal club football Mohun Bagan and East Bengal) is scheduled on 23rd January. Here are some thoughts crossing the mind of a Mohun Bagan supporter.

  • This I-League is different for Mohun Bagan. They are the title defenders for the first time. So expectations of the lakhs of supporters and the club management are at a peak for a dream encore. And nobody knows that better than Sanjay Sen, the coach and architect of last year’s league win. So I was not surprised when he said before every match in the ongoing league, “All I want from the match is three points’. He has proved himself in Mohun Bagan with the last I-League and has a tough task at hand to deliver a satisfactory performance again. He has a good squad at his disposal. So the cold calculations in his mind are understandable and it seems all he is looking for is three points from this match again. The margin of victory won't matter to him.
  • Mohun Bagan’s winning streak should be long like the I-League 2015. It will help retain a high position on the league table in the long term. The club has started off well by winning both the matches played (3-1 against Aizawl FC and 4-2 against Salgaocar FC). East Bengal, on the other hand, has won the first (3-1 against Sporting Club de Goa) but drew goalless in the second against Mumbai FC.
  • I-League and Calcutta Football League (CFL) are two different worlds. Still, a derby is a derby in Kolkata. So though it was not the same Mohun Bagan of I-League 2015 in the last derby (September 2015 in CFL, thanks to Sony Norde and other key players not playing),  a fitting reply to East Bengal for the humiliating 0-4 loss is high on the wishlist.  
  • Debjit Majumdar is set to guard the goal instead of skipper Shilton Paul. Can he become a superman again, thanks to his amazing flying saves which we saw in I-League 2015? It will be a delight to see him frustrate the Dongs and the Rantys.
  • The problem of plenty for Sanjay Sen- Who all to bench and who all to field? For example, he has four key, in-form strikers to pick from- Cornell Glen, Balwant Singh, Jeje and Sony Norde. Right now, it seems Balwant may not make it to the final XI due to his injury in the practice and Jeje will replace him. Jeje is in top form and it will be great to see him back after his successful stints in ISL 2015 and the recently concluded SAFF Cup. Cornell Glen and Balwant are on fire (The duo have scored in both the matches in the league).
  • Sony Norde- Hope he delivers, as his first match in this year's league is going to be the derby. “When will he join?”  “Won’t he join?” Mohun Bagan’s biggest star of I-League 2015 kept the fans guessing from December ’15 and finally joined the squad when the team has had played two matches. He is now the most expensive player in India, commanding approximately Rs 1.7 crore ($ 258 thousand)) apart from perks. He is match fit and every fan is looking forward to his sparkling performance in the league. 
A dash of trivia: Five of the first XI players of Mohun Bagan are Bengali- Debjit Majumdar (Goalkeeper), Pritam Kotal (Right back), Kingshuk Debnath (Stopper), Pranay Halder (Midfielder) and Azharuddin Mullick (Striker). Those who lament the exodus of the Bengali from Kolkata football can take heart. By the way, 5-6 players in the recent SAFF Cup champion Indian team were Bengali too.


#MohunBagan #KolkataDerby #KolkataFootball #ILeague2016


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