| Dipendu Biswas slips on the slushy Salt Lake Stadium turf, much to the relief of Wari defenders Palash Ghosh (left) and Nayan Dey Tuesday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Mohammedan Sporting’s first-day show left Mohammed Habeeb red-faced. “I can’t fathom how they played such dull and insipid football,” the exasperated coach wondered after the 1-0 win in the CFL Super Division encounter with Wari AC at Salt Lake Stadium.
The black-and-white brigade pocketed full points alright, but Mohammedan Sporting did little to justify their pre-season five-star rating. All that the 10,000-odd fans got was a fortuitous goal from Mahindra United recruit Siddiqui, a couple of misses each by Syed Rahim Nabi and Dipendu Biswas, and a load of purposeless soccer in the middle of the park.
Be it bone-dry conditions of the first half or the slush and water under lights in the second, Habeeb’s men were consistent in their ineptitude. Bungo Singh, a star performer for Salgaocar last season, showed a lot of lethargy and very few defence-splitting passes he has been hired to provide.
Nabi and Dipendu looked to be still basking under last season’s spotlight, they have to quickly wake up from their slumber and start scoring goals. Balls flew in thick and fast from the flanks, but the headers just didn’t connect properly.
The only redeeming aspects were debutant Siddiqui’s enterprise and experienced goalkeeper Bivash Ghosh’s poise in potentially tricky situations — especially in blinding rain early in the second session.
Wari, showing the effects of training under somebody like newly-appointed technical director Jamshed Nassiri, would have equalised had Bivash not come in the way thrice. With the ball refusing to roll on the watery turf, the tall Bivash did well to anticipate danger.
The matchwinner came 19 minutes into the game, when the dark clouds were nowhere in sight. Hussein Mustafi’s through ball found Siddiqui who fired a stiff grounder which went in off Subhasish Banerjee’s body. The Wari goalkeeper was standing at the first post only, but didn’t bend down in time to block the ball.
Then came the rain, washing away Mohammedan Sporting’s intent of playing better soccer.
“The referee should have stopped the game in the second half,” remarked Nassiri, who could still take pride from his team’s showing.
Mohammedan Sporting: Bivash Ghosh, Amjad Ali Khan, Hussein Mustafi, Satish Bharti, Falguni Datta, Bungo Singh (Satish Minz, 83), Syed Iqbal Khan, Khaled Siddiqui, Syed Rahim Nabi, Dipendu Biswas, Sheik Sanjib (Arjan Ali, 59).
Wari AC: Nasibul Haq, Subhasish Banerjee, Nayan Dey, Palash Ghosh, Samar Bhattacharya, Anirban Sengupta (Ujjal Majhi, 35), Bijay Basfore, Himadri Chakraborty (Pervez Alam, 23), Bapi Haldar, Jahan Mehta (Sheik Hidayatulla, 72), Supratik Aind.
Referee: Tapan Haldar.