The Haitian turned on the style in his much-anticipated return against Aizawl.
The loud chants of “Sony! Sony!” echoed throughout the Salt Lake Stadium when Mohun Bagan’s new #50 started to warm-up on the sidelines. The King had returned and he would get a royal reception. Norde didn’t seem to have lost a step after coming on and pulling on the armband, putting on a masterclass in his 30-odd minutes on the pitch. He looked untouchable on the day and scored a stunning goal which was trademark Sony Norde.
The Haitian magician was greeted by almost 2000 Bagan supporters upon returning to the City of Joy on 22nd October and decided to repay their faith with an astounding performance. While Bagan already have a strong squad which will pick up their game gradually. However, Norde gives them the edge they lacked to win a biggie like the I-League.
Norde was given a standing ovation by Mohun Bagan fans against Aizawl FC
He provided a lot of creativity in the final third against Aizawl, pinging through-balls to Henry Kisekka and Asier Dipanda Dicka and causing nightmares for Aizawl’s defence. Pintu Mahata and Britto PM, both talented individuals, are yet to attain the consistency he has. Even youngsters like them are inspired by his terrific work, which takes pressure off their shoulders and allows them to operate more freely.
The Haitian is not only a great crosser of the ball, but his dribbling ability on the left was something which was on show against Aizawl. Norde caused nightmares for Vanlalduatsanga with his impeccable movement and dribbling, which resulted in the incredible goal. The winger also has much experience in the I-League and knows how opponents operate defensively, which allows him to get into such goalscoring positions and have such control over games.
In the half an hour he played against Aizawl, Norde gave a Man of the Match worthy performance. He was all over the final third and looked majestic whenever he got the ball. While he needs time to become fully fit, he already looks to have regained that sublime touch which made defences fear him. However, being a senior figure, Norde will look to help his peers hit top gear as well.
Norde will be key to unlocking Mohun Bagan’s true potential this season
Despite scoring the goal against Aizawl, he stated after the match how the Mariners have many goalscorers and that he wanted to get the best out of them. He will be key to enabling the likes of Kisekka, Omar Elhusseiny and Dicka to play to their utmost potential. The Haitian already seems to have developed a link with Kisekka, who was on the end of many of his through-balls and seems to suit his style because of his ability to move around the final third.
While Norde came on for Omar against Aizawl, it’s only a matter of time before both of them feature together. Omar operates more centrally under Sankarlal Chakraborty and seems to be lacking a partner who can understand him creatively. Sony can be the missing link, as he has the understanding to get on the end of clever through-balls. Norde can himself interchange positions with Omar at times to allow him to create more chances on the attacking front.
The Mariners need someone to feed balls into promising areas of the final third. Norde is pitch perfect for that role, as he’s always looking to provide that sweet through-ball or cross which can terrorize defences. He will eventually create a great chemistry with the likes of Kisekka and Omar, who both have similar attacking mindsets and will be given freedom to roam into dangerous positions to create goalscoring chances.
In his display against Aizawl, the Haitian proved how his movement is still top-notch. Despite coming off a long injury layoff, Sony is still one of the fastest wingers in the I-League. His incredible ball control and burst of acceleration make it impossible for defenders to contain him.
However, his experience at the top will be key for the Mariners this season. Norde already knows what it takes to go all the way in a lengthy competition like the Indian top flight and has that match-winning ability embedded in him.
Following an injury layoff which made many write him off, the winger is back with a purpose. His blistering performance against Aizawl was only the beginning. Norde intends on shutting up his doubters and to be the leader the Mariners have missed for a while. He’ll be a mentor to the youngsters and an effective partner to his foreign peers and will allow the team to come together as a unit.
While the Mariners are already four points behind rivals East Bengal in the I-League table, the major chunk of the season still remains. If Norde stays fit and fiery, he will definitely help them lodge a title challenge. Whether or not Bagan can thrive off his greatness and go all the way is to be seen in the next months.