|Rennedy Singh and Marcos Parreira argue the latter’s disallowed goal with the referee and his assistant during their match against Mohammedan Sporting at Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday. Picture bottom shows Shahnawaz Iqbal Khan getting a free ride from Habib Adekunle after scoring Mohammedan Sporting’s equaliser. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, Sept. 13: The roller-coaster ride that the CFL Super Division championship leg is going through took another interesting turn at the Salt Lake Stadium this afternoon as Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting played out a 1-1 draw.
Two high-quality goals ensured a stalemate, thus queering the pitch for Mohun Bagan. With East Bengal notching up full points against Mohammedan AC in the day’s other match, Aloke Mukherjee’s team has been pushed to a must-win situation in their final game against the same opponents.
If Mohun Bagan drop points on Monday while East Bengal register a win against Tollygunge Agragami a day later, Subhas Bhowmick’s men will be crowned champions. East Bengal, on the other hand, are assured of at least a play-off clash even in the worst-case scenario of them losing and Mohun Bagan winning their respective final games.
Manitombi Singh’s snap right-footer from about 30 yards out kissed Bivash Ghosh’s outstretched hand before lodging high into the Mohammedan Sporting goal after 11 minutes.
Shahnawaz Iqbal Khan, an eleventh-hour inclusion in the starting XI, returned the compliment two minutes from full time. His wickedly curving 25-yard shot left Prasanta Dora rooted to his position and stunned the Bagan camp, which had taken victory for granted.
Victory should still have been Mohun Bagan’s, had a bizarre decision not denied Marcos Parreira the game’s best ‘goal’ 10 minutes into the second session. A brilliantly executed free-kick from five yards outside the box bulged the netting.
Referee Kashinath Sen acknowledged the ‘goal’, and the Brazilian was celebrating his first strike after many moons while the Mohammedan Sporting players were gingerly trudging back to their positions, heads bowed. Suddenly, someone noticed that assistant referee Chittaranjan Das Majumdar had his flag up. He had found someone off-side and refused to budge despite facing several queries from the Bagan players and reserve bench.
The referee was quick to overrule himself. All he would say after the match was that the goal was cancelled because of an off-side, without specifying the culprit. An off-side in a direct free-kick situation is rare but not improbable. What makes this case strange is that none on the ground could spot a green-and-maroon shirt in an off-side position while Marcos’ free-kick travelled to the goal.
The stroke of ill-luck did hit them hard in the final analysis. But truth of the matter is, Mohun Bagan were the inferior team on the basis of the day’s performance. Marcos operated from an unaccustomed position, deep down his own half, and it took him one entire session to get his bearings right.
Jose Ramirez Barreto looked tired and was rarely let off the hook by Madhab Das. The two occasions he did wriggle free of his marker, Sunil Chhetri let him down. There wasn’t any overlapping worth its name, what with side-backs Manitombi and Palash Karmakar having their hands full containing the speedy Mohammedan Sporting frontliners.
Rennedy Singh was left with too heavy a load to carry, and he failed for a change.
Mohammed Habeeb’s boys looked more purposeful and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, especially in the first half. They created three positive chances, Syed Rahim Nabi (twice) and Bungo Singh bungling from close range.
New Nigerian recruit Peter Nowjee was quite a flop and Dipendu Biswas received very little support upfront. Still, the Mohun Bagan central defenders were kept very busy.
Mohun Bagan: Prasanta Dora, Manitombi Singh, Harpreet Singh, Debkumar Sasmal, Palash Karmakar, Mehtab Hussain, Basudeb Mondal (Hardeep Saini, 46), Marcos Parreira, Rennedy Singh, Sunil Chhetri (Rishi Kapoor, 87), Jose Ramirez Barreto.
Mohammedan Sporting: Bivash Ghosh, Amjad Ali Khan, Hussain Mustafi, Madhab Das, Momocha Singh, Habib Adekunle, Bungo Singh (Dipankar Chatterjee, 74), Shahnawaz Iqbal Khan, Syed Rahim Nabi, Peter Nowjee (Abdul Rauf Khan, 46), Dipendu Biswas.
Referee: Kashinath Sen.