The Mariners lost their first game this season under the stewardship of Spaniard Kibu Vicuna.

Mohun Bagan were drubbed 0-3 by Peerless SC in their first Calcutta Football League (CFL) game of the season at the Mohun Bagan Ground on Monday. A brace from Ansumana Kromah and one from substitute Laxmikanta Mandi gave the visitors all three points, handing Kibu Vicuna his first loss as the Mariners’ boss.

The hosts did try their best to entertain the jam-packed crowd and were unlucky not to score, with Salva Chamorro also missing a late penalty. However, Peerless pounced on their errors and delivered a shock result to get their own first win of the campaign. Here are our talking points for the game:

5. Do Mohun Bagan need better wingers?

While Vicuna’s style has displayed many positives in these early games, Bagan are still struggling to penetrate through defences at will. While the full-backs are putting in inviting crosses when marching forward, the wingers haven’t been as clinical. Azharuddin Mollick was heckled by Peerless defenders, barely getting a kick of the ball.

Even Sk Faiaz, now signed permanently, wasn’t as decisive with his crossing and missed an open goal. Indeed, the final delivery was lacking from their wingers. Even though their movement was decent, the lack of that killer ball or the non-existent goalscoring ability hurt the Mariners. If this continues, maybe they should look for more dynamic wide men before the I-league.

4. Is Ansumana Kromah on course to be the CFL top scorer again this season?

Kromah has almost been like the heart and soul of Peerless in recent seasons, being the man responsible for their wondrous run last campaign. As they finished second, Kromah also ended up as the top scorer with 11 goals last time out. It’s almost like his ability is amplified whenever he plays at the Kolkata Maidan, where he loves scoring goals.

Kromah led Peerless’ fight against Mohun Bagan, scoring a cheeky goal after a clever one-two with Pankaj Moulla. The former Aizawl FC man toyed with the Mariners’ defence, scoring his second after a mistake from Shilton Paul. He already has four goals so far this season and if he retains his brilliant goalscoring touch as well as his trickery to bamboozle defenders, the Liberian could end up topping the goalscoring charts once again.

3. Should Shilton Paul be rotated with others?

Despite his heroics against Mohammedan Sporting on Friday, Shilton Paul was back to his antics on Monday. The experienced goalkeeper didn’t show any signs of maturity with an extremely harried, error-prone performance which cost his side the points. Not only did he easily allow Kromah to dribble past him to score the opener, but Paul’s horrible decision-making didn’t allow his side to lodge a comeback.

He completely misread a clearance to hand Manti the opportunity to score the second and slipped to gift Kromah his second and the team’s third. Vicuna has ATK loanee Debjit Majumder, known for his shot-stopping skills, at his disposal along with the trustworthy Sankar Roy. Perhaps it’s time for him to bench Shilton and give others a shot.

2. Can Peerless break the CFL monopoly once again?

Last season, Peerless did something rather remarkable in finishing in the top two of the CFL, meaning that the East Bengal-Mohun Bagan dominance was finally thwarted. They defeated the Red and Gold on their own ground and this time have repeated the feat with the defending champions.

With their fearless, attacking style, Jahar Das’ men capitalized on the opposition’s errors to record a resounding victory. This should give them enough confidence to go forward and try for a top-two finish once again. They have an experienced outlet with a special Kromah charging them forward and if they can maintain this consistency throughout, we might deliver a repeat of last campaign’s heroics once again.

1. Is the rigorous schedule catching up to Mohun Bagan?

Unlike other years, this time Mohun Bagan have seen their CFL campaign collide with the Durand Cup. Vicuna obviously has a healthy squad to rotate with, but his players don’t seem to have reached peak fitness yet. They huffed and puffed to make both sides of the field, with Peerless looking much fitter throughout the game. 

Moreover, the visitors also capitalized on them slacking off, scoring three goals to humiliate them in their own backyard. Perhaps more work needs to be put in training to amplify the players’ performance levels. But, it was clear that this schedule of having to play a game every few days is making the players exhausted mentally and physically, which could create bigger problems going forward.