The tactical acumen of Spanish coach Kibu Vicuna, the right selection of foreign and Indian recruits who performed consistently and a management persisting with the side even during poor form, are few of the reasons that ensured the moment of glory for Mohun Bagan.
The I-League title saw Mohun Bagan’s season climaxing in a dramatic fashion as the team shook off some disappointments earlier in the season. The team suffered setbacks missing the Calcutta Football League and Durand Cup titles and even started the I-League with a draw and a loss in the first two outings.
But that was the end of the team’s poor run as it turned around it's campaign with a 4-0 win against TRAU FC in the third round. The win sparked a fantastic journey for Mohun Bagan and the team created a new I-League record of remaining unbeaten in 14 matches.
The team netted an incredible 12 wins while drawing only two make it an unparalleled run of success, which has the scope of continuing for another three rounds.
When asked to analyse the side's triumph, senior Mohun Bagan official Debasish Dutta said one of the main reasons behind that was choosing Kalyani Stadium as the venue.
“Kalyani has a fantastic ground and the stadium has a smaller capacity compared to Salt Lake Stadium. This ensured that we had packed galleries motivating the side in every match. The giant Salt Lake Stadium appears empty even if you have 20,000 supporters coming in,” Dutta said.
“I must also congratulate the club executives who continued to have faith in the coach and team even after it failed to pick up a title earlier in the season,” the Bagan official reasoned. That was the version of the management in how it stood by the side of the team especially during the times when the chips were down.
Ask Vicuna and he says the team was playing well from the beginning of the season and needed time to reach its peak. “The team has been performing at a good level from the beginning of the season. I have been telling from the beginning that this team needs time to reach its peak. We had a completely new team and one had be patient for it to bring the results. It is good that the club management put faith in us and gave us the time to produce the title in the end,” he said after the match.
The coach added that the team always had the potential and it is good that it could realise it in the end. “As a team we always wanted to win every tournament and you see we ended as the runner-up in both Calcutta Football League and the Durand Cup. It goes to show that the team always had the potential and it was only a matter of time that we could express ourselves in the right way,” he said.
“Football is about emotions and it is the dream of a footballer to make the fans happy by winning the title. It is good that we could produce that kind of football to make this happen,” Vicuna added.
When asked to define the point where he thought the winning the title was a possibility, Vicuna said it became a probability only when they beat Aizawl FC on Tuesday.
“If you talk about any turning point it should be our win against Aizawl because the title is a reality now. So long the talk was about "the team could do it", now the talk is that "the team has done it".
“Today there was a lot of pressure and we could not play our game. But that we managed to win it in the end - this says a lot about the hard work that has gone into preparing the side make it perform all in 16 rounds so far,” he said.
As Mohun Bagan heads to the Indian Super League (ISL) next season, both Vicuna and the players stare at an uncertain future. Debasish Dutta said Mohun Bagan will have some engagement for Vicuna and the players.
But with ATK enjoying a lion’s share in the board that will manage the team next season, such assurances hardly have any bearing on the future.
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