MOHAMMEDAN SPORTING SHOOK OFF their season-starting jitters to put on a through-and-through dominant performance against ARA FC to claim a 4-1 victory.
The Black Panthers won their first match against Garhwal FC after facing tough resistance but none of that was on offer in this game from ARA, and but for one unfortunate own goal, the 129 year old club put in a perfect day at work.
Watch the full game courtesy the 1Sports Facebook page.
The starting line-up of Mohammedan Sporting was surprising for a lot of people. Six players, namely Kingsley, Himanshu Jangra, Gani Ahmed Nigam, Satyam Sharma, Munmun Lugun and Samuel Shadap, who started the last match were either put on the bench or removed from the squad altogether. The list included Munmun Lugun, who socred the goal in added time to get Mohammedan Sporting their win against Garhwal, and Himanshu Jangra, who was one of their best players in the opening game. But if there was any initial concern that a wholesale change like this might negatively affect the club's performance, as soon as the match started, it dissipated.
Mohammedan Sporting weren in control from minute one. Their midifeld was superior to ARA's but what was particularly effective for them was the added threat of Vanlalbiaa Chhangte from the right wing. Chhangte, who created a number of chances in the previous match, he was even more threatening today. ARA, who usually practice on a much more narrow pitch back home, appeared to not be ready for the expansive attacking game plan that Mohammedan were implementing.
Chances started coming in early and perhaps fittingly it was Willis Plaza who got the first goal for them just 13 minutes in. After hitting the woodwork twice in the first match, the reversal of fortune was a sigh of relief both for him and for his team. Not long after, Abhishek Rijal, the young Nepali striker, found the net from a pass by Chhangte to double the lead. Abhishek got his second goal just before half-time, giving MSC a comfortable 3-0 cushion.
ARA started the second half trying to get back in the game through counters but it wasn't long before Mohammedan regained control of play. ARA got the goal they had been looking for; but it came unexpectedly as Saiful Rahaman's attempted clearance got past Mohammedan keeper Priyant Singh and into the net. The own goal did little to change the course of the match, though, as MSC kept the ball most of the time, played a fluid passing game that constantly kept their opponents out of their comfort zone and towards the end, Sk Faiaz scored another goal to ensure a large 4-1 victory margin for them.
With six points from two games and a +4 goal difference, Mohammedan Sporting have achieved a strong start to their campaign and are potentially one result away from winning the competition and qualifying for I-League 2020-21. Their next match will be on 16th October against Bhawanipore, another strong team who have started their campaign with a win. This may turn out to be the most crucial match of the tournament and go a long way to decide the Black Panthers' fate.
For ARA FC, nothing went right today, and a lot of corrections are needed if they are to achieve a positive result in their next match, against Bengaluru United on 14th October. Given how short the competition is, losing a match by 3 goals is a big setback, and hard to recover from, especially on short notice. The odds will be against them when they return to action.