Mohun Baganís Nirmal Chetri tries to evade United Sikkimís Linekar Machado during their I-League tie, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Thursday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta: United Sikkim FC had conceded as many as 37 goals going into Thursday’s I-League encounter against Mohun Bagan, here, at the Salt Lake Stadium.
But they didn’t have to take in any more, thanks to Bagan’s profligacy. Rather, the Sikkim side finished with a point as the match ended in a goalless draw.
Looking at the positive side of things, Bagan have at least opened their account after being reinstated in the competition. From zero, they move on to one. But the scenario seems to be getting worse as they now need to win at least another nine matches or so, out of the 14 remaining, in order to dispel relegation fears.
For United Sikkim, getting a point from an away match, despite missing five of their regulars, was a handsome bonus.
The Sikkim-based outfit was the side against whom Bagan had an excellent opportunity to post a convincing win, which could have served as a morale-booster for the tougher battles ahead. With Prayag United SC being Bagan’s next opponents, the green and maroon brigade needs a major shake-up.
Coupled with yet another colourless performance, Bagan also delayed in taking the field after half-time, a matter noticed by match commissioner S. Suresh, who will mention it in his report to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Given their performance on Thursday, it seemed as if the Bagan players have forgotten how to score.
Throughout, the likes of Tolgay Ozebe and Syed Rahim Nabi made inroads into the United Sikkim defence. But they kept spoiling the good moves shooting wide off the target. Worse, an unmarked Denson Devadas, positioned well inside the 10-yard circle, slipped and fell while he had just to shoot the ball in from point blank range.
Devadas had another chance as well midway into the second session.
Bagan, however, should also consider themselves to be extremely fortunate as referee M.B. Santosh Kumar overlooked Snehasish Chakraborty’s handling the ball inside the box — in the 69th minute — thereby robbing the visitors of a genuine penalty.
“The team hasn’t given up. I believe strongly in the boys. I feel they have put up a much improved show compared to how they performed in the previous game against Salgaocar SC,” Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa said.
“It’s just a mental block that we’re facing. As soon as we register our first victory, I’m sure we will overcome this problem.”
Mohun Bagan: Arindam Bhattacharjee, Snehasish Chakraborty, Celestine Echezona, Aiborlang Khongjee, Nirmal Chetri, Jewel Raja (C. Sabeeth, 59 th minute), Denson Devadas, Manish Maithani, Manish Bhargav (Rakesh Masih, 72 nd minute), Syed Rahim Nabi, Tolgay Ozebe.
United Sikkim FC: Monotosh Ghosh, Munmun T. Lugun, Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan (Sonam Bhutia, 69 th minute), Avishek Das, Linekar Machado, Syed Farid, Zenith Mashangva, Nima Tamang, Nuruddin Salau, John L. Matkin.
Referee: M.B. Santosh Kumar
MoM: Nuruddin Salau