| Rennedy Singh exults after scoring his first goal at Salt Lake Stadium on Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: Rennedy Singh returned to goalscoring ways, scoring a brace, as Mohun Bagan walloped JCT 3-0 on Friday to move into the semi-finals of the Tata Federation Cup Friday.
This was after Jose Ramirez Barreto had opened the scoring in the 35th minute.
The Salt Lake Stadium turf, reduced to slush, hardly inspired soccer of any quality. JCT found it tough to get their footing on the ‘foreign’ conditions and Bagan, inspired by Barreto’s versatility, singed their opponents.
The Brazilian, until he was replaced in the 78th minute, reiterated his class time and again, with brilliant touch play and excellent distribution. He found an able partner in Rennedy, who operated mainly down the left flank. Manitombi Singh, introduced in the left back position, was also quick and precise on the overlaps.
In fact, Manitombi along with debutant Babun Kar gave some much-needed stability to the defence. “The defence was certainly more compact and that made the difference,” acknowledged coach Aloke Mukherjee after the match.
Nigerian Chukwuma Akuneto kept Jo Paul Ancheri in check and that made JCT almost immobile. As the hardworking Hardeep Saini and Hardeep Gill lent support to the forwardline, Bagan attacks showed direction and cohesion.
Barreto’s back head off a Rennedy cross was saved on the goalline by goalkeeper Mansuru Mohammed. That was in the 15th minute and early warning for things to follow.
The Brazilian’s ability to convert a half chance brought about the opening goal. Rennedy’s misdirected volley off a Marcos Pareira pass was hovering near the JCT goalmouth almost harmlessly. Barreto got into the act and his backvolley from the melee landed into the net.
Two minutes from the breather came Rennedy’s first strike. The enterprising Rennedy’s left-footed tap following a Gill cross took the goalkeeper and the defenders by surprise to make it 2-0.
The third goal, 25 minutes into the second session, came from a Rennedy freekick outside the 18-yard box. The left-footer curled past the wall and kissed the cross-piece tobounced inside the goalline.
Gill could also have put his name on the scoresheet had he not squandered a chance after Barreto had placed it on a platter inside the penalty box.
Poor turf irks Barreto, coach
Mohun Bagan players and coach felt playing on the treacherous Salt Lake Stadium turf would risk injury. “No level of soccer is possible on this ground,” said coach Mukherjee. Barreto said the same. “Football is not possible here. The players are only indulging in a dummy fight.”
East Bengal later demanded that their matches be shifted to home ground.
Mohun Bagan: Arindam Ghosh, Babun Kar, Harpreet Singh, Debkumar Sashmal, Manitombi Singh, Hardeep Saini (Basudeb Mondal, 66), Hardeep Gill, Chukwuma Akuneto, Rennedy Singh, Jose Ramirez Barreto (Sunil Chettri, 78), Marcos Pareira.
JCT: Mansuru Mohammed, Jagjit Randhawa, Musa Aliu, K.V. Dhanesh, Daljit Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Sukhjinder Singh (Shivraj Singh, 54), Jo Paul Ancheri, Ram Paul (Jaswant Singh, 63), Harvinder Singh (Charanjit Kumar, 67), Stephen Abarowei.
Referee: Rizwan-ul Haq.