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Manish nets a brace in Bagan victory

Calcutta: The McDowell Mohun Bagan players issued a statement in support of coach Karim Bencharifa on Monday. The Moroccan came up with a statement-making move himself a day later.

Bagan won Tuesday’s CFL Premier Division match against Aryan Club 3-0, but that’s secondary. What was more striking was Bencharifa’s move to employ an out-and-out defender, Anyichie Echezona, as the striker in the second-half of the match.

It’s not about whether that was a right or a wrong move, it’s all about what the move said… It said that such poor is Bagan’s reserve bench that the coach is forced to bank on a defender to find him goals. And to be fair to Bencharifa, it’s not really his fault as the club officials are often the ones who pick the squad at the beginning of the season.

Tuesday’s win may or may not help Bencharifa keep his job as making a scapegoat of the coach has been a common practice in some of the city clubs, but the coach’s ‘Eche-move’ certainly showed what exactly Bagan’s problem is.

Coming back to the match, it was a tale of two contrasting halves. While first-half was barren, the second saw three goals.

The Man of the Match award went to Bagan’s Manish Bhargav who scored two goals. But it was referee Pranjal Banerjee who drew all the attention as he flashed the dreaded red card thrice in the match.

The first red of the game was shown to Aryan’s Prosenjit Chakraborty for bringing down Katsumi Yusa just outside the box. That seemed to be a pretty harsh decision. Then, Aryan’s Ujjal Hawladar was given the marching orders for using his hand to stop a goal-bound shot. Bagan’s Echezona was the last man to be evicted when he got his second yellow for ignoring the referee’s whistle for an off-side.

Bagan’s first two goals, in the 55th and 69th minutes, came from spot-kicks. The first one was converted by Manish, while the second was scored by Katsumi. In the 72nd minute, Manish’s low volley from about 25 yards gave Bagan their third goal when Aryan ’keeper Tanmoy Karmakar was wrong footed.

At the post-match media conference, Bencharifa appreciated the players’ support for him. “The hot seat will always remain hot… I never really worry about that. But it was nice that the players issued a statement of support… Personally, I would hope that my last day at Bagan will be the last day of the season, because that’s what my contract says.”

“I would like to believe that the club is behind me in support since I haven’t been told anything negative by the officials. So I’m not really thinking about that… I’m not getting distracted,” he said.

Teams

Mohun Bagan: Shilton Paul, Aiborlang Khongjee, Anyichie Echezona, Rowilson Rodrigues, Pritam Kotal, Pankaj Moula, Denson Devadas, Manish Bhargav (Prokash Roy, 90), Shaiju Mon (Shouvik Ghosh, 50), Katsumi Yusa, Ram Mallick (Argha Chakraborty, 76)

Aryan Club: Tanmoy Karmakar, Ainish Zamadar, Emmanuel, Ujjal Hawladar, Prosenjit Chakraborty, Kartick Kisku (Gour Shankar Dutta, 29), Asit Hazra, Goutam Thakur, Biswarup Deb (Pintu Prasad, 89), Pintu Manna, Stanley.

Referee: Pranjal Banerjee

MoM: Manish Bhargav