The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bhutia stars in Bagan’s away win

Calcutta: Bhaichung Bhutia made an impressive start to his stint with Mohun Bagan helping the National Football League champions to a convincing 2-0 victory against Saunders SC in Colombo in the AFC Champions League qualifying round match Wednesday.

Bhaichung, who signed for the glamour outfit just a month back, scored the first goal for the winners and set up the second for George Ekeh.

Talking to The Telegraph over telephone, Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya said the game was completely dominated by his team. Had the strikers been a little more careful in finishing, the scoreline could have looked much healthier, the coach added.

“But what is more satisfying is that the team finally played as an unit,” Bhattacharya said. He also praised both Bhaichung and Brazilian Jose Ramirez Barreto for exerting a huge amount of work-load. “Both of them moved up as well as fell back in defence, allowing me to have the extra man as and when necessary.”

Bhattacharya also sounded a sense of relief about his defence. “With Satish (Bharti) playing well and Yakubu giving him good company, the defence looked in better shape.” He added that if Debjit Ghosh comes back to the fold, his team will look in a much better shape.

The coach informed that Bagan started off in the 4-4-2 formation, with Ekeh playing as the defensive screen. After having an initial look at the opposition, Mohun Bagan started raiding the rival territory.

The first goal came off a flag-kick in the 17th minute. Rennedy Singh floated in the corner which was headed down by Yakubu and Bhaichung, lurking nearby, struck a first timer that crashed into the net.

Bagan missed a few opportunities and the score remained 1-0 in the first half.

In the second session, Ekeh was shifted to the position of an attacking midfielder. “That gave us extra bite in the attack,” the coach said.

The second goal was scored in the 55th minute when Bhaichung set up a through ball for Ekeh and the Nigerian made no mistake to put it past the Saunders’ keeper. However, Saunders increased some pressure late in the second session and right-back Dulal Biswas effected a goalline save. “Both Dulal and Lolendra Singh had a decent match in defence,” Bhattacharya said.


Mohun Bagan: Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Lolendra Singh, Yakubu, Satish Bharti, Dulal Biswas; Jayanta Sen, Basudeb Mondal (Amar Ganguly, 80), George Ekeh, Rennedy Singh; Jose Ramirez Barreto, Bhaichung Bhutia.

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