BOTH THE BIG CLUBS from Kolkata, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, began their journey for the 2016-17 season today by playing their first practice matches in preparation for of the Calcutta Football League season.
Mohun Bagan played Peerless Club, a fellow CFL side, in their own ground and suffered a shock defeat of 0-2. The East Bengal first team played their own academy squad and came out with a 3-1 win.
The Mohun Bagan side, which did not feature newly-arrived star striker Darryl Duffy, created quite a few chances but failed to convert. They were playing with a considerably high defensive line and paid the price by allowing Peerless midfielders to create space for themselves and press in. Goalkeeper Anrab Das Sharma also didn't look at his best as he failed to judge the flight of the ball a few times. The Mariners got their best chance to score when they got a penalty but Ajoy Singh shot it wide.
Former Indian international Rahim Nabi, who played for both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan in the past and signed for Mumbai FC last season before leaving the team to contest an election, made his first appearance for his new club Peerless in this match. And he scored.
The East Bengal first team meanwhile faced their own academy juniors at the Howrah Stadium in a match divided in three 30-minute periods. The academy cadets put up a good fight, although the seniors always looked comfortable and maintained an upper hand. The Red and Golds' star attacking midfielder Do Dong-hyun got the supporters' expectations up by scoring a hat-trick as the first team registered a convincing win at the end.
The idea behind playing the first team against the academy squad was probably so that head coach Trevor James Morgan could test the next-gen players and potentially pick up a couple of talented kids for their senior debut in the upcoming season as the Red and Golds aim for a record-setting 7th straight CFL title.