Mohun Bagan looks for revival under new coach Chakraborty

The Kolkata giant is winless in four matches and will have new coach on the sidelines when it hosts Aizawl FC in Sunday's encounter.

Sony Norde will be missed by Mohun Bagan.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Kolkata giant, Mohun Bagan, will embark on a fresh journey when it takes on Aizawl FC in the 2017/18 Hero I-League at the Vivekananda Yuvabharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) on Sunday (January 7).

Sankar Lal Chakraborty takes over the reins of the team after previous head coach Sanjoy Sen put in his papers following a string of four winless games, ending in a 2-1 defeat to Chennai City FC – its first in over three seasons in a Hero I-League home game.

“We have to overcome the tough situation with hard work. If I don't take this challenge now at this age, then I might not be able to forever. Tomorrow's match is about making Mohun Bagan return to winning ways. There will be some changes. Everyone will get to see tomorrow. I cannot say much now”, he said in his first ever Hero I-League pre-match press conference as the Bagan boss.

Read: Mohun Bagan appoints new head coach

He added, “My playing career was not so long. It ended not long after it started. When I was nineteen or twenty years old that time, there was an exuberance that was present. I felt that if I punched a brick wall, it will crack; now if I think of doing the same, I feel my hand will break so that is the difference.”

He praised the opposition as well.

“The team that won the Hero I-League last year, the head coach Khalid Jamil and most players have left. But, it does not look like they have started from the scratch. I believe this team is even stronger than last years. So it will be tough for us.”

Hopes of a revival in fortunes will be brightened by new signing Cameron Watson, who has been declared fit to play on Sunday. The Australian national said, “I have come here to do my job. It does not change whichever club I play for. My role in the attack is to play the ball for the front players and obviously help the back four in defending.

“I am not going to do anything out of the ordinary or be something that I am not. I will play my game and stick to whatever the coach wants and try and get a positive result. I haven't played a game in a couple of months. I have been training but training obviously is different from a competitive game. I am very happy that it is not too hot so it is going to play in my favour a little bit. I think I am excited. I hope I can complete the full game if I play from the start.

“It is not ideal circumstances to come into a club but that is football, it happens everywhere. I am not the first individual to experience this, certainly won't be the last. But you have to take it all in your stride”, said the midfielder.

Languishing in the fifth spot, Mohun Bagan has ten points in its kitty – the same as Aizawl FC, but has played two more games as the Mizoram-based club plays only its sixth game of the season on Sunday.

The Green and Maroons has won all its games at home against Aizawl FC in all competitions and never has scored less than three goals in each match. However, with Sony Norde sidelined and Aser Dipanda Dicka and Ansumana Kromah out of form, that run seems unlikely to continue. 

For the title holder, it will be looking to keep its winning streak intact as it has recovered well after losing 1-0 at home to Shillong Lajong by picking up two back-to-back victories. It returns to the venue where it started the season with a 2-2 draw with current league leader Kingfisher East Bengal and will be looking for a win or a repeat of the same against its city rival.

“It is just another match and we are targeting three points. Our preparation is the same. I am least bothered about what the opposition do. There will always be pressure on clubs like Mohun Bagan and Kingfisher East Bengal. Even our team has pressure to perform as we are the champions”, said head coach Paulo Menezes on the eve of the game.

He further commented, “If Sony (Norde) does not play it is their headache, not mine. We cannot think of the other team and other players. If we have to think, we will think about the opposition collectively and not individual players.”

Its bouquet of foreigners has been instrumental this campaign so far. Leonce Dodoz and Yugo Kobayashi have been inspiring in attack while Masih Saighani has been solid at the back, Andrei Ionescu’s introduction in midfield has pushed club skipper Alfred Jaryan to the fringes. 

Saighani, the Afghan defender said, “Mohun Bagan are a good team and have good players” as he aims to keep a clean-sheet against the Green and Maroons.

It will be interesting to see what kind of revenge the Mariners serves up after it lost the corresponding fixture in Aizawl last season, which signalled the end of title hopes for the Kolkata club.

The kick-off is at 2 PM IST and it'll be televised live on Star Sports 2/2 HD and streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.