EAST BENGAL AND MOHUN BAGAN HAVE RECOVERED somewhat from their disastrous start to Calcutta Football League (Premier Division A) campaigns following wins they earned in simultaneous matches today.
East Bengal played Aryan FC in their own stadium, and carried on the improved form they achieved from their victory against BSS Sporting on Sunday.
Aryan, who were unbeaten in their last 3 matches, came in with a solid defensive plan, seeking to hold off East Bengal from their box and attack on the counters. They managed to keep the score level for most of the first half, although Red and Gold youngster Vidyasagar Singh had a chance to get his club an early lead which he misplaced. But shortly before half time skipper Lalrindika Ralte got the team a breakthrough when his left footer found the net.
Jaime Santos Colado scored right after the hour mark to make it 2-0. Aryan had no choice but to escalate attacks to get a goal back and make the match competitive again but their efforts didn't bear fruit. Towards the end of the match, Colado scored again, making it 3-0.
It was the most comfortable victory the club had earned in the CFL so far, having lost their campaign opener 0-1 to George Telegraph and eked through with a 2-1 win against BSS Sporting. Today's win put them up to 6 points from 3 matches, at 4th place on the league table.
At the same time, BSS Sporting were taking on East Bengal's arch rivals and defending CFL champions Mohun Bagan, who were playing their first match since Saturday's loss to Gokulam Kerala FC at the Durand Cup final. Mohun Bagan had agreed to play the match at the Kalyani Stadium and not at their own stadium to avoid security issues since their neighbours East Bengal were also hosting a match on the same day. Unofficially, however, Mohun Bagan coach Kibu Vicuna had expressed the wish to play in a wider pitch where his midfield and wingers would have more real estate to exploit; something the Mohun Bagan Stadium did not provide.
After a shock 0-3 loss to Peerless and a 1-1 draw with Calcutta Customs, Mohun Bagan were at the bottom of the league table, in desperate need of a victory to turn their campaign around. Today, however, they had a harder time overcoming their own inadeEarly on in the game Mohun Bagan got a penalty when BSS player Vikash Saini handled the ball. But Fran Gonzalez failed to capitalize from the spot kick, hitting the woodwork.
Half an hour in, India's U-17 world cupper Nongdamba Naorem provided a perfect ball into the box which Salva Chamorro converted with a header, much to the joy of the thousands of Mohun Bagan fans who had sacrificed a day of work travelled for hours to see their club play a match at 3 pm on a Wednesday. But their cheer didn't last long as only 3 minutes later, former Minerva Punjab attacking medio William Opoku Asiedu capitalized on a silly mistake made by Gurjinder Kumar and found the net for BSS Sporting. The teams went into the break tied 1-1 and it looked like Mohun Bagan were getting a case of nerves yet again.
But soon after the match resumed, it was Nongdamba Naorem who found the net for the Mariners, giving them a 2-1 lead.
First goal of Naorem for Bagan. It’s a cause for celebration.
Getting the lead back seemed to lift a huge burden from the players' shoulders, who played freely for the rest of the match, and Mohun Bagan showed glimpses of the short passes and creative midfield build-up that the fans have been hoping to see from them this season.
The victory, the Green and Maroons' first of the campaign, slid them up to the 6th place in the league table, with 4 points from 3 matches.
The wins picked up by the two arch rivals have acted as a fitting prelude to the highly anticipated Kolkata Derby clash on 1st September, the season's first meeting of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
Within a day of tickets being put on sale online, more than 8 blocks of Salt Lake Stadium have already been sold out. With both clubs going into the big game with wins, demand for tickets is expected to skyrocket.