The Postmortem: Bengaluru flings Aizawl off the top, Norde keeping Bagan awake into the title race

Arijit Mukherjee  |  The Postmortem  |  1 Year Ago

I-league started in full flow this weekend with a clutch of matches which is going to define the season. The 15th round was one to look out for after the international break and what a round it was.


On Saturday, firstly the two teams near the relegation zone Churchill Brothers and Mumbai FC squared off against each other, it was a must win match for the Mumbaikars with a new coach at their helm of affairs and the match finished in a drab draw. Lack of attacking prowess sides came to the fore in this match and Mumbai’s sojourn with the I League looks to be coming to an end at least temporarily, it looks like Santosh Kashyap have done the damage and have made sure the team has no chances, the team management needs to be equally blamed as they persisted with Kashyap for far too long albeit of opposition from within the team as well as their loyal supporters the Yellow Brigade. Yes the Yellow Brigade will be missed heavily in the I League as albeit small but they have matched the other much larger fan bases across the country on sheer passion and vigour. Oscar Bruzon is fighting a lost because at least it seems so for the time being. Churchill on the other hand were clinical in getting a point from a away match and ensuring safety in the league as well as cementing their spot for the Federation Cup where the top eight teams will be competing.


Lajong travelled to Pune and made sure they collect full points from a team which has lost the plot recently albeit having a fairly good team. DSK looks to be lacking motivation, dedication and passion for the game off late, it can be for the payment issue the team is facing at the moment. Lajong on the other hand is looking solid and skilful in finishing off matches and the Mariners would have a tough nut to crack when they travel to Shillong for the next round. Cameroonian striker Dipanda looks to be running away with the Golden Boot with his goal scoring spree at the moment.


In the battle of the newbies Chennai City surprisingly defeated Minerva at their own ground through some clinical play throughout the match. The team from Chandigarh looked like they have not turned on from their long break and was steamrolled for most part of the match. They were beaten convincingly and stayed at ninth in the ten team league, they are immune from relegation but would love to be in the top eight so that they can play in the Federation Cup in their debut season both the teams will be fighting for that.


Sunday was a Super Sunday for Indian club Football with defending champion Bengaluru taking on the surprise leaders Aizawl FC at their own den i.e. the Kanteerava. It was an even match with Bengaluru quite predictably dominating possession and Aizawl looking to hit them on a break; it was a riveting match with ample goal mouth opportunities for both sides. There was some contentious referring decision which went against both teams. Bengaluru did an encore of their match against Maziya in the AFC Cup and beat Khalid Jamil’s men with literally the last kick of the match, they are making it a habit of scoring at the very end. Bengaluru’s win severely dents Aizawl’s charge towards the title especially as the mighty Mariners have got their mojos back and breathing perilously close to their neck. Khalid Jamil was a livid man and blamed the referee for his teams’ loss. He anyway has a history of confrontation with the West Block Blues and the Bengaluru team as last season while still coach of Mumbai FC he had a huge bust-up with Westwood as well the then Bengaluru coach. Bengaluru anyway is getting into a habit of picking up fights with opponent and their support staffs at the drop the hat and their disciplinary record in this edition well documents the fact, the fans have been raucous for any visiting teams and hurling abuses off the field while the team has been pretty lackadaisical in the league this time and I guess the frustration is boiling over for the fans and the team alike, as they are used to winning silver-wares. They had a fight with East Bengal as well earlier in the season at both Kanteerava and Barasat Stadium. They are not even in the top four this season for a change and that is indeed taking a toll on them.


Now to the last one and the Mega match of the 15th round, Asia’s oldest and largest derby, the clash of the titans at Siliguri. MohunBagan and East Bengal locked horn once again at the Siliguri Kanchenjunga Stadium for the return derby and what a match it was, MohunBagan dominated proceedings from the word go and literally overwhelmed the Red and Gold defence on more than one occasion, it was a surprise that they had to wait until the 35th minute for the first goal and it was simply mesmerising and world class with Sony Norde unleashing a unstoppable and measured free-kick into the far corner, seven minutes later Azharuddin Mullick doubled the lead with an exquisite and clever lob to literally seal the fate of the match in the first half itself. The way Sony and co were playing if they had been a little less profligate in front of goal Morgan’s men would have been really embarrassed with the score line.


The second half the Red and Gold’s tried playing more constructively and tried to stitch more passes but the Bagan team was determined, superior and impeccable in this match and they were no let-offs for the likes of Mehtab and Bukaniya. Things got more compounded midway through the second half when Plaza lost his head and composure shoved Anas in an off the ball scenario and got his marching order straight away, this is what pressure in a derby does and Plaza may have realised what hara-kiri he committed much later. That was the final kneel on the coffin as far as the Red and Gold’s were concerned, Mohunbagan played percentage football and just ensured that East Bengal did not get any opportunity to score until the last minute when Borges bulged Debjit’s net with a world class volley.


This was a memorable victory for the Mariners and they have looked in ominous form after the international break scoring 8 goals in three. The more worrying for their future opponents is they have made two of top teams in India look pedestrian in the last few days and have registered wins without much sweat. With their current form they look to be the favourite for the League title if they do not implode or slump suddenly and Aizawl will be worried real worried with the deadly form MohunBagan is in.


For East Bengal and Morgan it is the classic case of near yet so far yet again and this is the 14th year that they are unsuccessful in the I League, must be really biting their fans this statistics. They were very hopeful this year after assembling quite a high quality team this year but as stated by me before Morgan is not fit to guide them through with his strange tactics and lack of game awareness and it was exposed blatantly by Sanjoy Sen in both the derbies. Actually Sanjoy Sen made sure the results go as per his wish in both the Derbies and Morgan was left helpless, by the way this is East Bengal’s third loss on the trot and they have imploded badly at the business end yet again.


Looking forward to the 16th round with much anticipation as that will really separate the men from the boys once and for all. Happy Viewing Folks!!


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