Calcutta: James Moga and Edeh Chidi took care of the basics. And the fans took it upon themselves to ensure that the ground took on a festive air — bordering on hysteria — as East Bengal completed a routine 2-0 win against Kalighat MS to retain the Calcutta Football League at home ground, here on Wednesday.
The minute referee Ujjal Halder blew the long whistle, Armando Colaco became the man of the moment. He was literally plucked up from the ground by onrushing fans and carried towards the middle, being thrown in the air and again caught by a multitude of hands. It did give him a scare, as Colaco himself admitted later.
Colaco seems to be the harbinger of all things good for East Bengal at the moment, with the club having gone through some issues with coaches in the recent past. Brazilian Marcos Falopa took over from Trevor James Morgan on June 12, 2013, and though East Bengal made it to the AFC Cup semi-finals under him, Falopa never really won hearts.
His contract was terminated after a mere five months, on November 13, and Colaco was given charge the very next day. It was under Falopa that East Bengal started their CFL defence, winning the initial matches.
Naturally, the CFL title is being seen as a stepping stone towards the I-League and the forthcoming Federation Cup. The match never really rose to any great heights, the difference between the standard of the two outfits being more than obvious.
East Bengal, safe in the knowledge that even a draw on Wednesday would be enough to be CFL winners, didn’t really press too hard.
But even then, there were opportunities aplenty that went abegging. It was Moga who drew first blood in the 24th minute. Subodh Kumar’s pass found Cavin Lobo whose assist found the onrushing Moga in the clear. Moga shot home without much trouble. Though Kalighat players kept claiming that Moga was offside, the goal was granted and the celebrations started in the stands.
Red and gold flags, fans dressed in the team colours holding torches and red-gold cut-outs in the shape of hilsa fish — and nearly 15,000 people packed into the stands. The party had already begun.
At half time, the score still stood at 1-0, though Ryuji Sueko, Robert Lalthlamuana and Lalrindika Ralta all had opportunities to score.
In the second half, Colaco brought in Edeh Chidi in the place of Moga in the 74th minute, and the super sub immediately struck to justify the faith Colaco reposed in him.
He converted a cross from Malsawmtluanga to double the lead in the 76th minute.
That scoreline stuck till the end of the match, with Sueko missing out on a penalty in the dying stages.
But, by then, it really didn’t matter anymore. The fans were just waiting for the match to end so that the celebrations could begin.
East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Naoba Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Arnab Mondal, Robert Lalthlamuana, Joaquim Abranches (Seiminlen Doungel 21), Lalrindika Ralte (Shylo Malsawmtluanga 57), Cavin Lobo, Subodh Kumar, James Moga (Edeh Chidi 75), Ryuji Sueoka.
Kalighat MS: Suvam Sen , Supriya Bhakat, Mohan Sarkar, Kallol Pal (Kazi Kutubuddin 46), Zodinliana, Sukanta Mondal, Pahoon Biswas (Shuvojit Hazra 46), Prosenjit Neogi, Prosenjit Paul, Joel Sunday, Bhim Oraon (Krishanu Das 75).
Referee: Ujjal Halder.
Man of the Match: Cavin Lobo