Calcutta: A beleaguered Mohun Bagan face Churchill Brothers in Sunday’s National League eight-round match at Salt Lake Stadium. The scars of Tuesday’s defeat against East Bengal are yet to heal and frontliners Satish Bharti and Basudeb Mondal are unavailable.
While Bharti is injured, Mondal is out with two bookings, but coach Subrata Bhattacharya’s principal problem is the lack of motivation among his charges. “We can still finish second if the boys do well,” he said Saturday.
With 29 points from 17 matches, Mohun Bagan are in the clutch of teams — including Churchill, Salgaocar, JCT and Vasco — vying for the second spot. A win now can jolly well galvanise their push for the runners-up slot.
“Motivating the players have been a problem. I have done what I could, now it’s up to them to deliver,” Subrata said. On paper at least, the defending champions still look intimidating.
There is Bhaichung Bhutia, Jose Ramirez Barreto and George Ekeh apart from the lesser talents such as Rennedy Singh, Dulal Biswas or Ranjan Dey. This set of players had beaten Churchill 3-2 in the first-leg match in Goa, so theoretically, they should start Sunday’s match favourites.
But the gap between theory and practice has been far too big for comfort for Mohun Bagan this season. It’s time they reduce that gap and end the season on a high. A second place, after all, is no mean achievement.