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EB soar; Md. Sp. nosedive

- Coach aziz sacked

Calcutta: A change in coach seems to have brought about a turnaround in East Bengal’s fortunes. Armando Colaco’s arrival has certainly made the red-and-gold brigade more consistent. On Sunday, they defeated I-League leaders Bengaluru FC 2-0 in an away tie to keep themselves in the hunt for the title.

It hasn’t been so good for Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan. Mohammedan Sporting have sacked coach Abdul Aziz Moshood and replaced him with Sanjoy Sen after the 1-3 reversal to bottom-placed Churchill Brothers in Sunday’s I-League tie in Mapusa.

Mohun Bagan have also put coach Karim Bencharifa on notice following the 0-1 loss to Dempo SC on Saturday. It could be the end of the road for Bencharifa if Bagan are unable to beat Aryan in Tuesday’s CFL Championship round tie.

For the last three seasons, one of the major reasons why East Bengal couldn’t finish as I-League champions was because of their poor performance in crucial matches, particularly the away encounters. Something that had bugged Trevor James Morgan relentlessly.

But given the side’s away form this season, Colaco should be a happy man. Under him, East Bengal have revelled as they have so far won two, drawn one and lost a close match.

At the Bangalore Football Stadium, goals by James Moga and Edeh Chidi in either half consigned Ashley Westwood’s side to their first defeat at home this season.

East Bengal thus remained in the seventh position with 18 points from 11 matches while Bengaluru FC continued to hold on to the pole position with 27 points from 14 matches.

East Bengal played better football in the first 15 minutes and kept up the pressure on the hosts, making several forays into their box. The visitors could have scored more had their strikers been a little bit more accurate.

Bengaluru FC began with the pace Westwood usually demands from his team while East Bengal chose to feed their strikers with long balls. The visitors’ ploy clicked in the 17th minute when Raju Gaikwad’s long ball found Moga. With Poirei charging out, the South Sudanese striker was left with the simple task of getting past him and slotting into an empty goal. And Moga didn’t disappoint.

Ten minutes later, Bengaluru almost equalised but Sean Rooney’s header hit the post before going out.

The game was momentarily stopped after the hour-mark as a section of the crowd hurled bottles onto the pitch. Caldeira joined his captain Sunil Chetri in trying to pacify the supporters and the match soon got underway.

East Bengal were happy to slow down the game even as Bengaluru pressed hard for the goal. Chidi sealed the issue for East Bengal in the 78th minute.

For Mohammedan Sporting, the going has been tough.

“He (Moshood) couldn’t bind the team togetherů Couldn’t even form a proper playing XI. Nor did he have any control over the side. Therefore, we decided to take such a decision,” Mohammedan Sporting football secretary Iqbal Ahmed said.

On Sunday things turned worse for Moshood as his men looked clueless against Churchill. Lenny Rodrigues, Jaison Vales and Balwant Singh fired as the Goans raced to a 3-0 lead before Ashim Biswas’ late strike reduced the margin. Soon after, Moshood was informed that his services were no longer required.

“I got a text message after the game that said I was no longer needed,” an upset Moshood said. “I really don’t want to think about how the club officials behaved with and treated me. I just want to look back at the positives.

“Under my supervision, the team remained unbeaten in seven matches. Besides, we won a match by seven goals this seasonů Don’t remember the last time the team had won by such a big margin.”

To add to their trouble, Tolgay Ozebe, who has been showcaused by the club for indiscipline, has asked for a release and is eyeing a deal with Dempo, sources informed.