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Katsumi’s strike gives Bagan bragging rights

Calcutta: Katsumi Yusa wasn’t really a sensation ever since he joined McDowell Mohun Bagan ranks. But on a day which matters most for all Bagan fans, he came up with something sensational.

Riding Katsumi’s 84th-minute super strike, Karim Bencharifa’s men carved out a 1-0 win over Kingfisher East Bengal at the Salt Lake Stadium to end the Calcutta Football League on a high.

The defeat hardly makes any difference to East Bengal as they have already sealed the title. But for Bagan, this victory was priceless, given the amount of confidence it would provide to their players, going into the Federation Cup.

East Bengal had a great opportunity to win the CFL title remaining unbeaten. And that too, before United Breweries group chairman Vijay Mallya, who was present at the ground along with Prosenjit Chatterjee.

But an error during a crucial moment robbed them of that chance. Katsumi, like a super-sniper, pounced on it to make the difference.

Receiving Sankar Oraon’s aerial ball, he sprinted through the left flank, beating his marker Raju Gaikwad by sheer pace. Then, from an almost zero-degree angle, he used his left-foot to perfection. The ball went like a bullet to the far post, leaving Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stunned.

Early in the second half, though, signs were ominous for Bagan as Okolie Odafe had to be taken off in the 51st minute after he suffered a muscle cramp while chasing a long ball. But little did East Bengal know that Odafe’s omission would be a blessing in disguise for their arch-rivals.

Throughout the game, it was noticed that East Bengal’s defence was one of their weak areas in the absence of the strongly built Uga Okpara.

As of now, coach Armando Colaco won’t be a happy man at all when he rejoins the squad in Manjeri.

TEAMS

Mohun Bagan: Shilton Paul, Pritam Kotal, Aniychie Echezona, Rowilson Rodrigues (Kinshuk Debnath, 69), Shouvik Ghosh, Pankaj Moula, Zakeer Mundampara, Denson Devadas, Sankar Oraon, Sabeeth Sathyan, Okolie Odafe (Katsumi Yusa, 51)

East Bengal: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Naoba Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Gurwinder Singh, Saumik Dey, Joaquim Abranches (Shylo Malsawmtluanga, 28), Harmanjyot Singh Khabra, Cavin Lobo, Lalrindika Ralte, Ryuji Sueoka, Edeh Chidi (James Moga, 81)

Referee: Pranjal Banerjee

MoM: Shilton Paul