A group of five were in the final stages of finalising a deal with a mini truck when a gang of 20-odd arrived at the scene and offered more money to hire the same vehicle.
On a gloomy Saturday afternoon, at Shibpur in Howrah, that was how events unfolded. The ‘competition’ in hiring the mini truck, however, was not between rivals, but between fans of Mohun Bagan who are desperate to travel to Kalyani in Nadia to watch the match on Sunday.
“Train services will be disrupted in the Sealdah main section on Sunday. But we have to go to Kalyani to watch the game. That is why we have come here to hire a vehicle,” an ardent Bagan supporter said when queried.
Table-toppers Bagan and second-placed Punjab FC promise a high-voltage I-League clash. The hosts want to carry on the momentum against the Yan Law-coached side and consolidate their position at the top. Both teams have played 10 matches each. Bagan have 23 points in their kitty while Punjab FC have six points less.
“The next match is always the most important one. The team doesn’t matter. They are doing well. But we are confident of having a good match. I’m happy with the way we are progressing. I don’t know about the result but we will go for three points. Every team is definitely more motivated at this stage. It is going to get tougher not only for us, but for all teams as well,” Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna said on the eve of the match.
On the other hand, Punjab FC coach Law said: “It’s a vital match for us because if Bagan win the game, they will increase the lead to nine points. Then it would be very difficult for us to catch them. We need to keep the title race alive. ”
But Vicuna refused to accept that defeating Punjab FC would be a big step in their quest for the title. “Last season, Chennai City won the title with 43 points. We have 23. I don’t think if we win the game, the league is ours,” Vicuna pointed out.
The hosts are likely to miss the service of defender Daniel Cyrus. The defender didn’t play the last match against Chennai City as well. Vicuna thinks Dipanda Dicka, the leading goal scorer of the league who earlier played for Bagan, could cause some problems for the hosts.
“Dicka is a good player. He is the top scorer at this point. He is one of the best strikers in the league. We have to be alert,” Vicuna said.
Bagan custodian Sankar Roy made a few feeble decisions in the last few games. But Vicuna is not worried. “He has been playing well. It earned us a point. We are happy with all the goalkeepers,” the coach said.
Since the 1-1 draw in the first-leg match between these two sides, the inclusion of Nirmal Chettri, Alwyn George and Eze Kingsley have strengthened Punjab FC.
Bagan midfielder Joseba Beitia, however, is not ready to think about the opponents much. “Our job is to win,” Beitia said. The youngest coach of the league, Law, who hails from the city, would not provide Bagan an easy outing. “If we win the title, I’ll bring the trophy back to Bengal. We’ve kept a cabinet where the old trophy is and there is an empty shelf which we want to fill up this season,” Law said.
Bagan have similar ambitions too.