Bagan ride Baretto brace to victory
FCI get past SAIL 2-0
Rennedy, Bagan seek Mallya intervention
England tour helped get over mental block

Calcutta, Aug 8 
Mohun Bagan rode the brilliance of Jose Ramirez Barreto yet again to tide over another difficult day in the Super Division league, but not before BNR had given them a big scare with a late resurgence.

The Brazilian has now scored five goals in six matches, overtaking Lal Bhulaiya of George Telegraph and Bhabani Prasad Mohanti of Tollygunge Agragami as Super Division�s leading scorer. He also scored in the �abandoned� match against Salkia Friends.

Scoring once in each half today, Barreto may have bailed out the home side but he also underlined the fact that the rest of the team needs to get their act together in time for the bigger battles .

With compatriot Joao Santos still looking lost at the goalmouth, and with the others doing no better when it comes to getting the ball into the goal, the burden on Barreto is increasing with every match. If he is delivering with such uncanny regularity despite the demands on him, it is testimony to his skill and tenacity.

And an unnerving calm in front of a goal.

Take the first goal, scored in first-half injury time amidst growing desperation in their ranks. When Basudeb Mondal�s cross from the right came to the far side, substitute Jayanta Sen made a mess of it with a left-footed volley. But, to Mohun Bagan�s luck, the ball went straight to Barreto in front of the goal.

It was then that the �calm�, that little �extra� which separates good strikers from also-rans, surfaced.

As the ball rose with the trap, Barreto surveyed the disarray in defence with one sweep of the head and calmly nodded the ball to the far post �- just eluding a man on the goalline. Even in a crowded goalmouth, Barreto seemed to have so much time to see the gap �- and find it with unerring accuracy.

The second goal, scored 13 minutes after the break, showed again Barreto�s ability to keep his wits about him in front of the goal though a great deal of credit must also go to Satyajit Chatterjee for a nicely weighted pass. The veteran midfielder, operating mostly from deep in his half today, pushed the ball into space down the middle for the Brazilian just short of the advancing BNR goalkeeper. From there, it was bread-and-butter stuff as Barreto slipped the ball past the goalkeeper and into the vacant goal.

Mohun Bagan could have scored at least another couple of goals had the other players shown even half the alacrity that Barreto did, but what they may remember most is the scare they were given at the fag end of the match.

With the match looking all wrapped up, an elementary error from goalkeeper Bibhas Ghosh paved the way for BNR�s only goal and a nightmarish period when the railwaymen came upon another couple of gilt-edged opportunities.

Kamal Ghosh�s 88th minute free-kick from the left looked a routine overhead �take� for the tall Bibhas �- till the ball slipped to the far end. Stopper Robin Chowdhury, who had moved up for the free-kick, nodded the ball back to the goalmouth where Partha Mitra headed in.

A couple of minutes later, a Kamal Ghosh cross saw substitute Swapan Das helping the ball along to the far post with a header but Robin Chowdhury�s tap went over from some four-yards out. It was an incredible miss, but Tulsi Rao could have made amends had he found the right angle with a tap as Ghosh sent in another cross �- seconds from the final whistle.

But for these late surges, BNR spent almost the entire match in their own half though a couple of breakaways did bring promise �- only to fritter away for lack of enough men upfront.    

Calcutta, Aug. 8 
Food Corporation of India (FCI) today made progress in keeping their position in the Super Division league�s top five with a 2-0 victory over SAIL.

FCI are now on nine points from seven matches, while SAIL are in a poor way, having collected just three points from seven matches.

Both FCI goals today came in the first half, the first from Amar Pyne, and the second from Nirmal Mondal.

In group A, Kidderpore beat Wari AC 2-1, while Aryan and CFC shared two goals. Gouranga Dutta put Aryan ahead and Chandan Haiti equalised.

In second division relegation play-off, Southern Samity beat Taltala Ekata Sangha 1-0, while YMSA and Howrah Town failed to score.

Team for Jessore

The Indian Football Association has selected a 20-member squad for the Shamsul Huda Gold Cup soccer tournament to be played in Jessore, Bangladesh, from August 15 to 20.

The team leaves station on August 15.    

Calcutta, Aug. 8 
Rennedy Singh and his prospective club Mohun Bagan have started proceedings to legalise their relationship. Today, Rennedy sent a letter to Vijay Mallya, chairman of the UB Group, requesting him to step in and solve the impasse created by East Bengal deciding not to release the player.

It is a letter quite like the one that a desperate Dipendu Biswas had written when Mohun Bagan were refusing to release him to East Bengal. It purports to paint the player as an unwilling pawn and one with a bleak future.

Mohun Bagan, too, have written to Mallya, stressing that the problem should be solved within 48 hours, looking at the availability of the player for the league.

If the issue does follow the Dipendu pattern, Rennedy should get his clearance soon, from the chairman of the club. One will be left wondering, though, as to why so much dust was raised for an issue as petty as this.

Rennedy starts practice with Mohun Bagan tomorrow.    

The Indian soccer team�s recent tour of England presented a blend of emotions, experiences and more importantly, some lessons in the methods of the modern version of the game. It also showed we can play tactically sound football and there is still some interest left in Indian football among expatriates.

While some pundits back home demeaned our efforts saying we adopted a primitive, ultra-defensive style against the technically and physically superior professional English clubs, some others expressed delight when we drew the second match. To my mind, both views are equally unimportant.

They are so because it is unwise to assess the gains of such a trip only by considering the results we achieved. Among other things, one has to look at the option we had, the way we prepared and our record against such sides. The last one is important because we rarely get the chance to play against European professionals at their home ground, even if they are first division English clubs and not national teams.

Let us admit it was an �exposure trip� and the outcome of the matches was really not of paramount importance. It was an opportunity to see what they do, how they do it and how we can benefit from watching and playing against them. Rather than putting our performance under the scanner, it would be more productive if we would sit back and think what we saw and try and assimilate them as much as we can.

Not surprisingly, we found there were lessons for us both on and off the field. It was unbelievable to discover the kind of infrastructure the first division clubs (even school and university teams) enjoy and the professional manner in which they function. Be it team doctors or media-handling groups, whatever they do or whoever they employ, have this air of professionalism. This is in stark contrast to the lackadaisical attitude of our way of handling things.

Not all of it, like laying high-breed grass on our turfs and maintaining state-of-the-art stadiums (including excellent dressing rooms and fully equipped medical rooms), is possible for us to implement as it is financially out of our reach. But things like appointing a full-time doctor for the national team or the clubs is certainly not beyond us. Needless to say it will help our players to stay fit, but a permanent medical expert will also grow familiar with the players� problems and the history and nature of their injuries.

As far as the game is concerned, the Fulham match was actually a revelation. The way they use the length and width of the pitch, their off-the-ball forward movements and the manner in which they utilise their bigger frames was a treat to watch. The clever use of the off-side traps, when they caught us napping even near the centre-circle, also made us aware of our shortcomings.

Their passing was so good that even 60-yard balls were released with supreme confidence and precision (which could not be intercepted). The way they open the game was also exemplary. All this can be mastered only after hours and hours of systematic training and it is time we started changing our methods.

The most striking aspect of the way they train is that all facets of the game � trapping, passing, dribbling, shooting, tackling and heading � are practised with a marker on. Even goalkeepers are made to train under pressure. In a match situation, none of these things are done without a player breathing down your neck but the practice here is different. We insist on individual development in these departments without paying attention to what may happen in a match.

Though one must laud our performance against West Bromwich Albion (0-0 draw), quite a few things remain to be done. What we need to do now is to follow video recordings of these matches and analyse them so that we can prepare better for our future international assignments.

Also, there must be better co-ordination among our federation and the clubs so that we are at full strength when we take on such teams. It is purely because of the lack of understanding between the clubs and the federation that some players could not be included in the team. The team suffered, as did the players. Whatever the reason, it wasn�t in the best interest of Indian football.

On the positive side, this trip helped us get rid of the tendency to give in while facing superior rivals. The fact that players like Mahesh Gawli or Hardeep Saini did not wince against German World Cup veteran Karl Heinz Riedle or former Scotland captain John Collins was the biggest gain. People over there accepted that tactically we are not far behind. Technically and physically we are yet to match them but we have overcome the mental block. More such trips, for different age groups, can help things swing towards the better.    


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