Mohun Bagan legend Jose Barreto: 'I see a bit of me in Baba Diawara'

Jose Barreto finds a bit of himself in Baba Diawara, the Senegalese striker who played a key role in Mohun Bagan winning the 2019-20 I-League, with four rounds to spare.

Baba Diawara

Diawara, who has played for Getafe on loan, netted the winner on Tuesday night at Kalyani. (File photo)   -  Twitter/I-League

Mohun Bagan great Jose Barreto finds a bit of himself in Baba Diawara, the Senegalese striker who played a key role in Mohun Bagan winning the 2019-20 I-League, with four rounds to spare.

Following its 1-0 victory against Aizawl FC, the Kolkata club extended its unbeaten run to 14 games, wrapping up the title in some style. Diawara got 10 goals scoring in each of the last nine games having joined in January.

Diawara, who has played for Getafe on loan, netted the winner on Tuesday night at Kalyani, fittingly capping off what has been a dream run for Kibu Vicuna’s men.

“One of the things that went in favour of Mohun Bagan was the recruitment of Baba. He came in at the right time. He was a key player. He is a really cool guy. I was also a really cool guy. He is not a loud leader. He is ‘follow me’ kind of a leader, like me,” Barreto said.

READ: Asked everyone to be patient to see results: Mohun Bagan's I-League winning coach Vicuna

“He came to Mohun Bagan at a time when they were not scoring enough goals. Maybe they were scoring but not enough to win games. He was a very smart player, very intelligent. He left spaces for others, he had good positioning in the box.

“He was a team player. He was kind of a quiet leader. I was not a guy who shouted but I also tried to lead by helping the team,” said the former green and maroons striker.

Jose Ramirez Barreto: A Mohun Bagan legend.

 

Barreto, who is currently head coach of the Reliance Football Young Champs (RFYC) which recently went toe-to-toe with youth teams of Chelsea and Manchester United in Mumbai, further said Diawara and he had different roles but what impressed him was how well the 32-year old adjusted himself and played within his limitations.

“When you’re talking about mental quality, we have more or less same. Looks like we are little bit similar. Football wise, little bit different. What I see now, he is not that fast. He moves a lot in the area of the box. My characteristics were different. My role was little bit different. But in his role, Baba has done very well.”

Another player on an unstoppable run has been Spaniard Joseba Beitia, Mohun Bagan’s No. 10 who finished with as many as nine assists.

READ: Mohun Bagan wins second I-League title with win over Aizawl FC

“He took a little bit of time to understand Indian football culture and the players. He adapted very well and with the system. Then his best starting coming out at the right moment. He very important in the set pieces and Bagan have been scoring many goals from set pieces, free kicks,” said Barreto, rated as one of the finest foreigners to have played on Indian soil.

He had reserved rich praise for coach Vicuna, saying the Spaniard’s plans and man management skills made the real difference.

“The plan was the difference maker. The coach and player connection. Once the coach came, the way he implemented the plan was very important and he got it right. Vicuna did well to get players on the same page.

“There are players from Spain and other nationalities. He was able to convince the players into his plan and decision. He made the players give a little bit more. The proof was four games before the season was over, Mohun Bagan became champions. He helped every player realise his potential. The way they played was special. It was a special league for Mohun Bagan and their fans.”

Barreto also lauded the club officials for their professional approach. “Management also deserves credit. I was there spending one week in Mohun Bagan. I could feel the environment was very professional. Vicuna had a good support staff. It was a good mix of Indian and foreign players. The foreign players really came here to make a difference.”

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