Calcutta: If there is one match in the I-League that everyone concerned would want to forget in a hurry, then Saturday’s Mohun Bagan – Mohammedan Sporting encounter will be the one.
The match was exactly what Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa described as at the post-match press conference. “Sorry guys. It was not good football today,” he said.
That really summed up action at the Salt Lake Stadium, here, as the I-League match petered out to a goalless draw.
Both the teams are not exactly in great shape in this season’s I-League. While Mohun Bagan are placed seventh with 21 points from 19 matches, Mohammedan Sporting are at 11th spot with 17 from 17 matches.
Bencharifa was quick to admit that Bagan could not put up a good show. "The midfield was very crowded. At times, there were about 10 players in that zone. My flanks did not really perform the way they normally play. I was expecting more from both Sabeeth and (Manish) Bhargav, but that didn't happen today," he said.
He added that players like Pritam Kotal and Ram Malik (who stayed on the bench) were fatigued and that put a spanner in his plans.
The return of captain Okolie Odafa to action should have been a blessing for Bagan. But in reality, the 90 minutes that he spent on the ground was rather painful for every fan. Odafa really had no meaningful contribution to the match, playing more or less the role of a passenger. While Bencharifa later tried to say that Odafa did try his best, but pitched against two match-fit centre backs in Sandeep Sangha and Luciano Sabrosa, the Nigerian couldn’t really make a mark.
It was strange to see the Bagan coach persist with his captain, just back from a long injury lay-off, for 90 minutes.
Both the teams played a midfield oriented game, resulting in a crowding that did not really cater to good football. However, Mohammedan Sporting did try sporadic raids, though with little success.
In Bangalore: Bengaluru FC 3 Churchill Brothers 0
In Calcutta: Mohun Bagan 0 Md. Sp. 0
In Margao: Dempo 4 Sporting Clube 0
In Pune: Pune FC 2 Lajong FC 2