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‘Red’ letter day for EB

Calcutta: Trevor Morgan’s vision and Robin Singh’s passion confirmed East Bengal’s status as 2010 Calcutta Football League (CFL) champions with a game to spare on Friday. The red and gold brigade showed nerves in a derby match to beat defending champions Mohun Bagan 2-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Morgan’s appointment as coach has given East Bengal a new lease of life, as the Briton first helped the club win the Federation Club this year and then the CFL with a stunning win record throughout the season.

With Friday’s win, Morgan’s men defeated Mohun Bagan three times in a row this year. Robin Singh, playing his first season in league football, scored two goals in each half to lift his side to a title victory.

East Bengal were a squad short on numbers due to injuries to key players, but Morgan’s tactical acumen gave the side a better hand in the face of a challenging situation. Mohun Bagan not only ran out of wits on a big-match day, but their forwards were blunted by a resilient red and gold defence.

The pressure showed in Mohun Bagan’s sluggish pass making and the resultant goal in the 12th minute. Shilton Paul made a rare mistake on a day when their title defence hung in balance. He dived full-length to pouch a Tolgay Ozebe cross but fluffed it allowing Robin Singh to tap in the first goal.

The Bagan camp was shocked as it came as a gift to the archrivals. Robin staged an impromptu dummy by pretending to row a boat with teammates in a dig at Bagan and from then on, it was an all red and gold show.

Bagan failed to hog position in the midfield and there was practically no attack through the wings. Dropping Snehasish Chakraborty from the first team proved costly as lack of overlapping hurt Bagan. Interestingly, Penn Orji came deep down in the face of counterattacks and that propped the East Bengal defence. The move was rather surprising and Morgan revealed Orji’s role after the match. “Penn’s role today was a little bit more defensive than normal when we didn’t have the ball. When he did have the ball he could go,” Morgan said.

East Bengal played to a plan and invited Bagan to make mistakes. Morgan said, “We sat back, absorbed the pressure and hit them on the counter attack. It is exactly what we had discussed.”

Morgan’s men attacked in bursts and crowded the defence so much so that the trio of Edeh Chidi, Murithala Ali and Jose Barreto failed to penetrate. To add to Bagan’s agony there were hardly any moves for the strikers that could pose enough threat.

Chidi knocked on East Bengal’s door in the 18th minute when his header was saved on the goal-line by Sanju Pradhan. Then, Ashim Biswas’ screamer in the 86th minute thudded against the crossbar.

Sushant Mathew and Sanju Pradhan combined brilliantly and played well individually too, till the combination of Tolgay and Robin struck again. Tolgey’s measured cross in the area found Robin unmarked and the latter timed his jump nicely to head home his second.

Teams

East Bengal: Jayanta Paul, Gurwinder Singh, Saumik Dey, Saikat Saha Roy, Uga Okpara, Mehtab Hossain, Sanju Pradhan (Alvito D’Cunha, 89’), Sushant Mathew, Penn Orji, Tolgey Ozebe (Ravinder Singh, 65’), Robin Singh (Budiram Tudu, 71’).

Mohun Bagan: Shilton Paul, Rahul Kumar, Harpreet Singh, Kingshuk Debnath, Jayanta Sen (Snehasish Chakraborty, 49’), Jose Barreto, Manish Maithai, Dhanarajan R (Ishfaq Ahmed, 69’), Surabuddin Mallick, Edeh Chidi, Murithala Ali (Ashim Biswas, 65’).

Referee: Gamini Nivom Robesh (Sri Lanka)

MoM: Penn Orji

RED & GOLD DAY

East Bengal have been CFL champions 32 times. Here’s the list:
1942, ’45, ’46, ’49, ’50, ’52, ’61, ’66, ’70, ’71, ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75, ’77, ’82, ’85, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’91, ’93, ’95, ’96, ’98, ’99, 2000, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’06, ’10.

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