The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bagan sparkle in opener

Calcutta, June 28: Mohun Bagan sparkled under dark clouds as they stomped to a 6-0 victory over West Bengal Police at home in their opening match of the Calcutta Football League Super Division Saturday.

Star striker Ashim Biswas scored twice, so did Sunil Chhetri, with Manitombi Singh and Mehtab Hossain rounding off the tally.

It was a one-sided show, really, even with the rather uncomfortable slushy underfoot conditions. The ground, following the rains, has become rather unfit for any quality of soccer, and playmaking was difficult. Also, Police players hardly put up a challenge to the marauding Bagan attacks and even standard tackles were avoided. They even made a mess of a penalty.

Bagan went ahead in the tenth minute. Up the right, Hossain latched onto a loose one and centred to an advancing Biswas. Goalkeeper Nanigopal Majumdar moved up leaving his charge and Biswas coolly lobbed the ball over and into the netting.

By that time all level of Police involvement had dried up. The initial forays taken by medio Jayanta Roy had stopped. The defenders, too, seemed to have surrendered. That resulted in several Mohun Bagan attacks, and in a couple of bewildering misses from close, Chhetri and Renedy Singh being the culprits.

Chhetri made good in the 31st minute when he trapped a Rennedy free-kick from the sidelines, and, as Nanigopal charged, quickly nodded sideways and into the goal.

Things were getting so dull in the Bagan defence and Manitombi was getting restless. In the 42nd minute he trapped the ball and moved up the right, drew the goalkeeper out and once off, slotted home in fine left-foot instep shot.

Hossain was also trying, shooting over from close in the 43rd minute, but it was Biswas, again, who found the netting, into first half injury time. It was a good grounder, would have been lethal on dry ground. But on a surface where the ball was getting stuck, it moved slower, and goalkeeper Nanigopal, unguarded that his sight was, should have been able to anticipate it. He dived, but too short to let the ball past the far post.

Crossing over four up, coach Aloke Mukherjee withdrew Biswas. “I knew he has this knee injury, and I couldn’t risk him. He has been very helpful, but I know how to get the best out of him,” Aloke said later.

Police changed their goalkeeper, putting in Subrata Damali instead. Damali proved as efficient or as inefficient as Nanigopal, though.

The only chance at goal that Police got in the match was a gift from Bagan in the 53rd minute. A minor pretence of an attack, and an overexcited Hossain stopped with his hand. Referee Gopinath Pyne ordered a penalty, but the way Police’s Sandip Biswas took the shot did not quite indicate his willingness to score. He tried a fancy drag-the-ball-to-the-far-post with his left foot and ended up having the ball bounce off the far post to safety instead.

In the 57th minute Chhetri tapped one to Hossain, midline and into Police defensive third. Hossain controlled and easily got the better of the advancing goalkeeper before sending home a measured lob.

Chhetri made his umpteenth miss in the 73rd minute and again made amends, four minutes from time, when substitute Hardeep Gill trapped a loose ball off a major bungle by a Police defender. Gill passed onto Chhetri and the latter slotted home past a hapless goalkeeper.


Mohun Bagan: Imran Khan, Monitombi Singh. Harpreet Singh (Sanjiv Maria, 72), Debkumar Shasmal, Rishi Kapoor, Basudeb Mondal (Palash Karmakar, 56), Hardeep Saini, Rennedy Singh, Mehtab Hossain, Ashim Biswas (Hardeep Gill, 46), Sunil Chhetri.

West Bengal Police: Nanigopal Majumdar (Subrata Damali, 46), Sandip Biswas, Subrata Das, Sujoy Bhaduri, Ujjal K. Samanta, Jayanta Roy (Shib Shankar Hati, 59), Tapas Chatterjee, Arindam Sarkar, Sankar Sil, Nadugopal Ghosh, Mrityunjoy Patra.

Referee: Gopinath Pyne

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