ATK Mohun Bagan begin ISL IX campaign with defeat
A disjointed ATK Mohun Bagan began their ISL IX campaign with a loss at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday. Chennaiyin FC, a team in transition, defeated the expensively-assembled ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1.
With East Bengal also losing their first match 3-1 at Kerala Blasters, the Big Two of Indian football stare at a season of despair. The loss will put more pressure on ATK Mohun Bagan coach Juan Ferrando whose future doesn’t look perfect at the green and maroon camp.
The failure in Durand Cup followed by AFC Cup inter-zonal debacle – ATK Mohun Bagan never thought it would be like this when the season started.
The team looks bereft of ideas and there is hardly any communication among the players. Playing at home, leading by a Manvir Singh strike in the 27th minute, they allowed Chennaiyin FC to come back. The equaliser came in the 64th minute through Kwame Karikari and Rahim Ali scored the winner in the 83rd.
The Barrackpore-born player is being rated highly by national coach Igor Stimac. Chennaiyin manager Tomas Brdaric should also be lauded for having faith in Ali’s talent.
ATK Mohun Bagan also came up against a dogged Debjit Majumder under the Chennaiyin FC bar. Majumder, who played a stellar role when Mohun Bagan won the I-League in 2015 and turned up in ATK colours before the merger in 2020, gave a good account of himself.
Ferrando’s decision to keep Liston Colaco on the bench till the 66th minute raised a few eyebrows. Dimitri Petratos in his first match was largely subdued. HugoBoumous ran out of steam after the change of ends and Joni Kauko had a miserable outing.
ATK Mohun Bagan got the goal in the 27th minute. Pritam Kotal’s forward pass found Boumous on the break. His deft side flick guided the ball to Singh’s feet who played Petratos on. The Australian reciprocated with a perfect return pass and Manvir’s left-footed shot beat a diving Majumder.
Chennaiyin FC made it 1-1 in the 64th minute. Julius Duker found an unmarked Karikari inside the box and goalkeeper Vishal Kaith brought him down.
A penalty was awarded and the Ghanaian Karikari converted it. Karikari was once again in the thick of action. A cutback from the right found Ali whose super curling low drive beat Kaith.
There was a 10-minute break due to a floodlight malfunction early in the second half but once action resumed there was still darkness on the ATK Mohun Bagan side.