More than making Mohun Bagan the champion for the record 14th occasion, the team’s triumph in the Federation Cup football spoke a lot about its coach Sanjoy Sen and the young striker Jeje Lalpekhlua. The 5-0 routing of Aizawl FC in the final here at the Indira Gandhi Stadium on Saturday evening re-established Mohun Bagan’s credentials as one of the topmost football clubs in the country as it retained the right to represent the country in the continental competition — the Champions League qualifiers and the AFC Cup.
Sanjoy Sen, who made his I-League debut in 2010 at the coach of United Sports Club, had a swift journey to prominence when he became the best coach of I-League by guiding Mohun Bagan to the top of the podium in the 2015 season. Known for his outspoken nature, Sen attracted the ire of the national body — AIFF — for some critical comments and was banned for four matches just when Mohun Bagan prepared for the home stretch leading the standings after 12 rounds of I-League.
The team ended as the I-League runner-up this season losing points in four successive rounds in the absence of Sen. The search for a title resumed as the Federation Cup came next in the line. Sen guided the team to the title in style as Mohun Bagan scored 17 goals while conceding just two (in five matches) in its journey to the summit.
“The addition of the Federation Cup to the I-League (in 2105) completes a cycle. All credit to the players in the way they put the disappointment of the I-League behind and sprung back showing exceptional commitment,” Sen said on Sunday. “On the personal front, the title is very satisfying as it is my first Federation Cup title as a coach. I have won almost all major national level tournaments and I want to be coach of the Indian national team in the future,” said Sen.
For the team’s key striker and Indian international, Jeje Lalpekhlua, the Fed Cup crown ended a longstanding jinx. The young player from Mizoram failed to win a single crown during his previous stints with Pune FC and Dempo SC before he joined Bagan couple of seasons ago. Winning the Indian Super League crown with Chennaiyin FC earlier this season seemed to better his luck. “It was a great feeling lifting the first national-level trophy of my professional career. My move to Mohun Bagan has really paid off as the two seasons here have been wonderful,” the striker who scored 20 goals this season for Mohun Bagan said.
“I tried my hand in different sports in childhood, but things changed after I played well in a junior football tournament in my native state Mizoram in 2006. Thereafter, I was picked up for the Mizoram under-19 team and then I got selected for the Indian under-19 under Colm Toal in 2007. That changed my career for good and things