| Akeem Abolanle who scored the lone goal on Saturday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, Aug. 30: The first phase of the Calcutta Super Division League came to end with Tollygunge Agragami beating Mohammedan Sporting to the third place.
Though there were five matches on Saturday, the battle was mainly between Ever-Ready and Railway FC for a slot in the Super Six. To qualify, Railway FC needed a win over West Bengal Police and Ever-Ready would have to lose to Wari.
Neither happened, as Railway FC lost 0-1 and Ever-Ready notched up a 3-0 win to secure fifth position, ahead of Mohammedan AC, who drew 1-1 with Bhratri. Both had 17 points, but Ever-Ready nosed ahead for conceding fewer goals.
The teams in the Super Six will play each other once and if the difference of points between the top two is less than three, there will be a play-off final to determine the winner. This leaves just two contenders for the title — East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. The two clash on Thursday, and a win for Mohun Bagan may well make way for a climactic finish.
Coming back to Saturday’s action, Tollygunge rode Akeem Abolanle’s 20th-minute strike to the 1-0 win. It was a listless match, marked by Mohammedan Sporting’s uninspired display.
Not that the team coached by Mohammed Habeeb with P.K. Banerjee as technical advisor had too much to play for. Still, a good performance would have helped Mohammedan Sporting regain some confidence after suffering defeats against the Big Two.
This urge was not to be seen and it was Tollygunge who showed a sense of purpose, a determination to register something noteworthy after a disastrous start. Buoyed by this, not by superior football, they earned a morale-boosting win.
Tollygunge coach Subrata Bhattacharya’s remarks aptly summarised the day’s proceedings. “There was nothing in today’s match, apart from the goal. We won because our boys wanted to win. Football-wise, there was no gain.”
The coach admitted whatever little there was to rejoice was on the personal front. “Especially after the horrible start. It’s satisfying to see our team is currently placed third, that too with a win over the Federation Cup finalists.”
The mood in the Mohammedan Sporting camp was surprising. While Habeeb sat silent in a corner, struggling to hold back tears, the players appeared nonchalant. A senior player made an interesting observation.
“It’s probably this lack of heartburn that’s letting us down. We have lost five matches in the league, yet many players don’t seem to be bothered. It not doing our confidence any good.”
Captain Dipendu Biswas blamed the debacle partly to the schedule. “It’s not an excuse, but it’s a point worth pondering. Why do we have to play two matches in three days, that too against Mohun Bagan and Tollygunge'”
TOLLYGUNGE AGRAGAMI: Chinmoy Banerjee; Isiaka Awoyemi, Partha Sarathi Dey (Prakash Kolay, 40, Chinmoy Sarkar, 74), Sujit Neogi, Goutam Debnath, Amit Das (Temzen Kibang, 87), Sandip Das, Suman Dutta, Shamsi Reza, Akeem Abolanle.
MOHAMMEDAN SPORTING: Bivash Ghosh (K. Refeek, 46); Syed Hussain (Bungo Singh, 46), Habib Adenkule, Madhab Das, Momocha Singh, Amjad Ali Khan, Shahnawaz Iqbal Khan, Khalid Siddique (Surjit Singh, 69), Abdur Rauf Khan, Dipendu Biswas, Sheikh Sanjib.
Referee: Goutam Sadhukhan