Bagan have the bragging rights after 8 long years

Shankarlal’s men ride Henry Kisekka brace to regain CFL title 

By A Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 13.09.18
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It takes two to tango: Henry Kisekka (left) and Dipanda Dicka in a party mood after the former scored the second goal against Calcutta Customs. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: The last time Mohun Bagan had won the Calcutta Football League (CFL) title, Manmohan Singh was still the Prime Minister of India and demonetisation didn’t exist in the common man’s dictionary. 

Doesn’t that seem ages back? To put a number to it, it was the 2009-10 season when Bagan were last called the CFL champions. Since then, the CFL trophy was synonymous to East Bengal. 

Bagan’s wait ended on Wednesday evening. A 2-0 victory over Calcutta Customs, courtesy a Henry Kisekka brace, meant an unassailable lead, and with it the trophy. Bagan have 26 points from 10 matches to East Bengal’s 20 from 10 games.

It was like light at the end of the tunnel after eight years of darkness. Bagan did win the prestigious I-League in 2014-15, but then the CFL, even in its current diminished light, is something that gives millions of fans the bragging rights during those typical Maidan football addas.

So what happens when the eight-year long wait, seemingly unending heartburn, comes to end? It causes an explosion of sorts. An explosion of emotions, overwhelming joy and celebration of football like there is no tomorrow.

Seconds after the final whistle at the Bagan ground on Wednesday, fans started trickling into the ground from all possible corners. As the police personnel got ready to tackle them, the hundreds swelled into thousands and soon no grass could be seen on the pitch. It all looked like a green and maroon sea, with thousands setting sails for a journey to the end of ecstasy. ‘The Mariners’, as most of the Bagan fans love to call themselves.

Some kissed the turf like a long-lost friend, some took selfies in front of the goalpost, others were simply happy being chased by the police, with the Mohun Bagan flag flying high in their hands. Chaotic, yes. And also a bit reckless as it could have triggered an accident. But there was none to restore order. Or rather, for Bagan, order was restored after eight years.

One couldn’t have guessed of such a scene when the match began in front of packed stands on the Maidan stretch that houses Bagan. But that the league was Bagan’s was understood as early as the fourth minute of the match when Kisekka opened the account. 

A cross from right into the box was somehow brought down by Kisekka and his diagonal shot beat Calcutta Customs goalkeeper Suvam Sen to give Bagan a 1-0 lead. 

The dreams of a title win seemed even more realistic when Kisekka added his and Bagan’s second in the 45th minute. This time Dipanda Dicka released Henry inside the box with a perfect through pass and the Ugandan took all his time to place it past the ’keeper. The margin could even have been bigger had Dicka not missed a few prominent chances. But no one really cared.

The chants and the fireworks had already began at the half-time, and after 45 more minutes of compulsory football, the floodgates were thrown open. 

Bagan have one more match left in this CFL campaign, against Mohammedan Sporting, on Tuesday. 

But that’s of academic interest, though coach Shankarlal Chakraborty insisted that remaining unbeaten in the league is still a target. For the fans though, the league is over. 

Eight years is long time. Light years is perhaps a more apt term.

CFL PREMIER DIV. A

MOHUN BAGAN 2
CALCUTTA CUSTOMS 0

STANDINGS

CFL PREMIER DIV. A

                          P  W D  L  GF  GA  PTS
MOHUN BAGAN  10  8  2  0  25  5  26
EAST BENGAL 10  6 2  2  18  7  20
PEERLESS 9  6  1 2  16 7 19
MD. SPORTING  8 5  1 2 9  4  16
RAINBOW AC  9  5  1  3  12  8  16
CAL. CUSTOMS  8  3  4  1  11  8  13
ARYAN  9  4  1  4  8  10  13
PATHACHAKRA  9  2  3  4  8  14  9
GEORGE TELEGRAPH  8  2  2  4  9  12  8
TOLLYGUNGE  9  1  1  7  9  19  4
FCI  9  0  3  6  4  18  3
WB POLICE  8  0  1  7  3  20  1

COMPILED BY HARIPRASAD CHATTOPADHYAY