On cusp of title glory, Mohun Bagan face tricky Bengaluru test

A determined Mohun Bagan will be gunning for glory as they are only a point shy of winning their maiden I-League football title when they take on defending champions Bengaluru FC in what promises to be a pulsating finale to the marathon tourney.

On cusp of title glory, Mohun Bagan face tricky Bengaluru test

Bengaluru: A determined Mohun Bagan will be gunning for glory as they are only a point shy of winning their maiden I-League football title when they take on defending champions Bengaluru FC in what promises to be a pulsating finale to the marathon tourney.

A tournament victory has eluded green-and-maroon brigade for the past five years. Bagan had last won the league during the NFL days, back in 2001-02 season.

Call it irony, 13 years ago on that fateful evening in Goa, Bagan needed a win in order to seal the trophy and a second half header from Nigerian Saliu got them the trophy.

It was a tournament where one of Bagan's legends Jose Ramirez Barreto single-handedly carried the team with a bit of assistance from the likes of Basudeb Mondal, Debjit Ghosh, RP Singh and RC Prakash to name a few.

Even during the past decade when Mohun Bagan flattered to deceive its millions of supporters across India, they have stuck by the team like loyalists and it is now payback time for the Shilton Pauls and the Pritam Kotals.

The current team under little-known Sanjay Sen has shown that they have it in them to win the title.

Whether national captain Sunil Chhetri, who would be eager to play a party pooper on 'Super Sunday' or chief coach of the Indian football team Stephen Constantine, everyone has admitted that this edition of I-league has been one of the most exciting ones which has gone right down to the wire.

While Bagan need a draw to reach 39 points and clinch the title, the defending champions require to win their final match in order to retain the trophy.

Bengaluru do not have happy memories of their away encounter against Bagan, where they were whipped 1-4 in Kolkata.

However, the scenario is completely different this time around as the Kolkata giants, with the burden of expectations, have lot more to lose than the two-year-old club, which has done remarkably well under young coach Ashley Westwood.

It will be a test of nerves for the Bagan defenders Pritam Kotal, Bello Rasaq, Kingshuk Debnath and Dhanachandra Singh as they would have to stop the likes of Sunil and shield goalkeeper Shilton Paul from Robin Singh's lethal left-footers.

But it will be Japanese Katsumi Yusa and talismanic Haitian Sony Norde, who will hold the key to this match.

Operating from the two wide ends, the Katsumi-Norde duo could spell doom for the home team and also bring cheers for the 5000-odd Bagan fans, who will be in the stadium to cheer their favourite side.

A lot will also depend on how well youngsters Souvik Chakraborty and Shehnaz Singh combine in the middle of the park.

Bagan coach Sen will be praying that his profligate hitman Balwant Singh finds his touch when it matters the most and Pierre Boya brings out something magical that will end one of the most popular football clubs of India's trophy drought.

Bagan coach Sen said, "We will have to keep our cool and play our natural game. If we can do all things right that we have done till now, we will definitely win the tournament." 

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