SHILLONG LAJONG HELD Mohun Bagan to a 1-1 draw tonight, causing another twist in the I-League title race. This is the second season in a row that the Mariners have failed to get full points at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
But after the match was over with Dipanda's penalty conversion cancelling out Jeje's chip, the point of contention between the two head coaches was an earlier incident that occured in the first half.
A loud inside-the-box handball call against Redeem Tlang was waved off by the referee in the first half. The Mohun Bagan players seemed convinced that it was a clear case of handball that should have resulted in a penalty for Mohun Bagan. Speaking to reporters after the match, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said,
"When you are denied a penalty early in the game in a crucial match like this one, it affects the players mentally. It was a clear penalty but the referee did not give it to us. When a hand is stuck out like that inside the box, how can it not be a penalty? Everyone in the stadium saw it, even their head coach admitted that it was a genuine penalty call, but only the referee did not see it... I'm not complaining about the penalty given against us, but we should have gotten a penalty earlier."
So to clarify the situation, TFG asked Shillong Lajong head coach when he addressed the media whether he indeed believed that Mohun Bagan were denied a penalty. Thangboi Singto replied,
"I never said that... I did not see that incident properly."
When TFG told Sanjoy Sen afterwards that Singto had denied ever admitting that MB should have been awarded a penalty, the coach retorted angrily,
"Everyone saw it! Ask my club director what happened! Why are you clarifying his response with me? I don't care what they say."
The high-pressure game took its toll on both the coaches. Sanjoy Sen himself was repeatedly involved in arguments with the fourth official who was trying to limit his movement near the reserve bench. Thangboi Singto also went through a nerve wrecking fixture. But both these veteran coaches, who have always spoken highly of each other before, have gotten involved in a heated war of words with each other for the first time in their career.