| Mohammedan Sporting striker Abdulateef Seriki is challenged by Debabrata Roy (left) and Subhas Mondal of TFA during their IFA Shield clash at the Salt Lake Stadium Monday. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: That Mohammedan Sporting have not recovered from their loss in the Durand Cup semi-final was quite evident on Monday when they went down 0-2 to unfancied Tata Football Academy (TFA) in their IFA Shield opener at the Salt Lake Stadium.
With the victory, TFA are now on four points from two games, and a place in the semi-final looks a possibility.
Mohammedan Sporting had kicked off the season on a very promising note. But with time, their performance has waned, and the soccer they dished out on Monday, was nothing better than atrocious.
The midfield, comprising the likes of Rahim Nabi and Habib Adekunle, who had given a very good account of themselves in the Calcutta Football League, was a pale shadow of its past. Also the two side-backs Amandeep Singh and Hossain Mustafi, hardly ever overlapped, making their attacks really look toothless.
TFA did not go for anything fancy in the first half and adopted the wait-and-watch policy. After a barren first session, the Jamsedpur outfit started to increase pressure on the rival defence.
They were visibly much fitter than their opposition and often outran the jaded Mohammedan Sporting team.
However, the Calcutta team came very close to opening the account, almost against the run of play. Abdulateef Seriki’s 20-yard piledriver was partially saved by the TFA custodian Subrato Paul, but as Nabi rushed in to tap the ball in, Paul regained ground to save the situation.
However, TFA asserting their supremacy over the game, went ahead in the 66th minute. Naoba Singh’s cross from the right was allowed to float in by the static Mohammedan Sporting defence and Malswama, lurking nearby, shot it in.
Down by a goal, there was hardly any urgency in the black-and-white brigade ranks. The Calcutta team failed to increase men in attack and their movements failed to make way into the penetrative zone. Still, Seriki once got a ball off Nabi floater from the left, but he failed to time his header.
TFA sealed the issue in the 78th minute, courtesy a wonderful solo-effort by Jehry Zirsanga. He beat Amandeep and Insan Ali on the run and took a superb right-footer that crashed into the net past a diving custodian Imran.
The TFA coach Ranjan Chowdhury was over the moon with his team’ show. “It has really been a gutsy effort and I am really confident making the next phase,” Chowdhury said.
The Mohammedan Sporting coach Mohammed Habeeb, though extremely dejected, said that he will fight with whatever resources available in the Shield. “But after that, what’s going to happen, I don’t know,” he added.
TFA: Subrato Paul; Subhas Mondal, Gurpreet Singh, Habibur Rahman Mondal, Debabrata Roy; Jehry Zirsanga, Chandan Chitra Sen, Gour Mangi, Sumit Thapa (K. Paite, 58); Naoba Singh, Malswama.
Mohammedan Sporting: Imran Khan; Reajul Mustafa, Insan Ali, Hussain Mustafi, Amandeep Singh; Khemtang Paite (Arjan Ali, 46), Habib Adekunle, Bhuvan Joshi, Rahim Nabi; Abdulateef Seriki, Dipendu Biswas (Abdul Rouf Khan, 75).
Referee: Bharat Moni (Karnataka)
TFA for NFL 2nd div.
Chowdhury informed that the TFA side will play in the second division of the National Football League this season.
The coach further added the second phase of the league will be played at Jamshedpur. “It will be a great exposure for the boys. I hope they’ll utilise it properly,” he said.
Meanwhile, former India international Carlton Chapman has joined the TFA as a coach.