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Stars do not matter: Sen

Calcutta: Having guided Mohammedan Sporting to the IFA Shield final after 24 years, coach Sanjoy Sen said that he has proved that it didn’t matter if a team had stars or not.

“Stars don’t really matter. What matters is playing good football and my boys have proved that. I wanted to make them get used to winning. Winning is a good habit,” he said, even as Mohammedan Sporting supporters started a frenetic celebration in and around the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday evening.

“We could not make it to the semi-finals of the Federation Cup, even though we stayed unbeaten. We want to win here,” he added.

Mohammedan Sporting have already given a cash award of Rs 2 lakh to the players and there are promises of more to follow if they win the Shield.

On the other side, Anjan Nath stood by his players. “Both teams got chances, but we missed the few we got. But I give all credit to the players for coming this far. Only they know how difficult it has been.

“It was bad luck today. But the fact that we reached the semi-finals will give us confidence to do better in the I-League once it resumes,” the United SC coach said.

He added that the absence of Lalkamal Bhowmick made a difference, though Ranty Martins played on Tuesday. He, however, rued the fact that chances went abegging.

The East Bengal camp wore a subdued look after the 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Dhanmondi Club on Tuesday afternoon in the first semi-final.

Assistant coach Ranjan Chowdhuri said that it was an “accident”, while James Moga explained that the team was too tired after playing back-to-back tournaments.

Dhanmondi coach Joseph Afusi said their strategy was to keep possession of the ball and ensure that they were always hovering near the opponent’s box.

“That creates pressure and it played off at the end. I had also asked my foreign players to concentrate on their positions when off the ball. That, too, created chances for us and got the goals.”

He added: "Today, we had about 70 percent of the ball possession. That was our gameplan. Also, I wanted our players to see to it that the ball stayed mostly in the opponent half. You see, the more shots you take at goal, the more chances you have of being successful. That's what we tried."

The Nigerian added that though they defeated fancied East Bengal, they would not take the final lightly.