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Calcutta Football League

CFL 2023: Mohammedan Sporting's road to triumph

Published at :October 17, 2023 at 2:31 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : Mohammedan Sporting Club Instagram page)

Uttiyo Sarkar

David Lalhlansanga was the highest scorer of the league

Mohammedan Sporting Club clinched their third successive Calcutta Football League (CFL) title by winning the 2023 edition in a comprehensive fashion. Andrey Chernyshov’s side have dominated the competition over the last few years and held off tough competition from rival teams to win it once again.

The Black Panthers began their CFL campaign by winning their first three matches, which included a huge 7-0 win against Calcutta FC– in which David Lalhlansanga scored a hattrick as well. They saw their winning runs snapped by Diamond Harbour FC, which proved to be the reality check that Chernyshov’s team needed to pick up their form.

That is because Mohammedan would not lose another group game until the end of the group stages in the CFL. They ended up winning six of their last eight games in the group stages, only drawing two times.

That helped the Black Panthers to just about pip competition from Diamond Harbour and win Group A. The two teams ended up in the same points, but a higher goal difference helped Chernyshov’s men move into the Super Six high on confidence.

Despite going into the CFL championship round at the back of a 2-2 draw against Mohun Bagan, the Black Panthers were not deterred by that set-back at all. In fact, the gaffer urged the players to get the very best out of each other in the final games of the CFL campaign.

Mohammedan SC during their 2-1 victory vs Bhawanipore FC (Source: Mohammedan Sporting Club Instagram page)

The Mohammedan Sporting players considered the Championship round as a set of five finals and excelled in each one of them. They started it with a dominant 5-0 win over Kidderpore SC, before going onto to achieve an amazing result against East Bengal.

They pipped the Red and Gold Brigaders to win the match by a 2-1 margin and take a huge step forward to the title. After that, Mohammedan also defeated Bhawanipore FC and finally got their revenge against Diamond Harbour too.

The Black Panthers got a comfortable 2-0 win over DHFC, setting up a decisive final game against Mohun Bagan. Chernyshov had set up his team perfectly to oust the Mariners, as Mohammedan would go on to win the game by a 2-0 margin.

This win would win them the 2023 CFL title and help them reaffirm their reputation as the dominant team in the division in the post-COVID-19 era. Not only did the Black Panthers win the title, but they dominated their way to their success.

In 17 overall games, Mohammedan Sporting scored 44 goals – averaging over two goals per game and only conceded 11 goals at that too. The uncontested star of the show for the Black Panthers was their young striker David Lalhlansaga.

After scoring a hattrick in their first game, the former Aizawl FC forward refused to look back. Lalhlansanga would go on to score a whopping 21 goals in the CFL campaign and easily win the Golden Boot title. The young forward was a menace with his clever movement, tormenting defenders in the box and being extremely efficient with his finishing ability.

The CFL not only gave Mohammedan a title but also proved to be the perfect preparation for Chernyshov’s side ahead of the 2023/24 I-League season. With the Black Panthers gunning to join the Indian Super League (ISL) in the near future, this I-League season will be vital for them.

After coming up short over the last few years, Mohammedan will be desperate to break their jinx this time around. They’ll hope that the CFL title win becomes their best stepping stone and can inspire the players to end their I-League curse.