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I-League

I-League 2019/20 Team Profile: Mohun Bagan

Published at :November 22, 2019 at 12:56 AM
Modified at :November 22, 2019 at 12:59 AM
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The Mariners are looking in good form ahead of the forthcoming league season.

Ever since winning the much-coveted I-League title in 2015, it has been a story of there and thereabout for Mohun Bagan. The club have come agonizingly close to adding more accolades to their tally recently, but have failed to get past the final hurdle. However, last season was far from ideal and something which the players and coaching staff would not like to remember. However,  a new setup and a revamped squad led by Jose Antonio 'Kibu' Vicuna, will look to right all the wrongs in his first league season in Indian football and pose a challenge for the crown. We at Khel Now analyze how the Mariners have been preparing for the upcoming campaign of the I-League. [KH_ADWORDS type="3" align="center"][/KH_ADWORDS]

Last Season's Performance

A very slow start under the tutelage of former head coach Shankarlal Chakraborty, with a string of draws, meant that the team were suffering from the lack of confidence needed in crunch matches. While there were inspiring performances in patches, the team started crumbling mid-season, with Chakraborty also deciding to part ways. Khalid Jamil was brought in to stabalize the side, but could not stop the blood flow, as their arch-rivals East Bengal thumped them for the second time in the term. Their season ended with a humiliating loss to India Arrows and it was well and truly one to forget, with the Mariners finishing in fifth position.

Pre-Season

Mohun Bagan started their new season with the Durand Cup. KIbu Vicuna's men topped their group, also featuring Mohammedan Sporting, ATK Reserves and Indian Navy. They surged forward, beating Real Kashmir in the semi-finals by virtue of two goals from VP Suhair in extra-time. However, the Mariners ran out of luck when they were beaten by Gokulam Kerala in the final. Mohun Bagan Durand Cup 2019

Mohun Bagan started their pre-season with the Durand Cup

The Mariners had a horrific start to their Calcutta Football League campaign, losing against Peerless SC. Although, they managed to get going later on in the campaign, they weren't truly contenders for the title. The Green and Maroons ultimately finished second in the league table. Mohun Bagan were also invited to take part in the Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup in Chittagong, Bangladesh and the Mariners gave a decent account of themselves. Here again, they faltered early in the tournament, losing against a comparatively inexperienced Young Elephants side. But, wins against TC Sports Club and hosts Chittagong Abahani meant they were back on track. However, Malaysia's Terengganu FC were too formidable, as the Mariners bowed out in the semi-finals.

Coaching Staff

One of the new names in Indian football, Spanish tactician Kibu Vicuna will look to live up to the expectations of the huge fanbase of the club. Vicuna was Jan Urban's right-hand man at top Polish clubs like Lech Poznan, Legis Warszawa and Zaglebie Lubin. The duo were also together at Osasuna, where he earned several accolades for his physical training and tactical prowess. Kibu Vicuna Mohun Bagan

Vicuna will be expected to help the Mariners clinch the I-League 2019-20 title

Kibu Vicuna is a well-known name in Spain, having coached players like Cesar Azpilicueta and Raul Garcia. He also has a close bond with former Spain and current Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui. Vicuna will be flanked by young Polish assistant, Tomasz Tchorz and experienced Indian coach Ranjan Chowdhury. Additionally, Dipankar Choudhury has taken the goalkeepers under his wing. After parting ways with physiotherapist Michael Johnson Abotsi, the Mariners have appointed Lithuanian Paulius Ragauskas as their new physio.

Transfers

In

Mohun Bagan have opted for an overall revamp after last season's disappointments. Vicuna firstly addressed the backline and Francisco Morante was their first major signing in the summer, followed by former Barcelona 'B' striker Salva Chamorro. In midfield, Francisco Gonzalez will add steel, while former Real Sociedad man, Joseba Beitia will be vested with the responsibility of providing creative impetus to the side. Lastly, Trinidad and Tobago national team defender, Daneil Cyrus and Spanish winger Julen Colinas have filled the two remaining overseas spots. VP Suhair Mohun Bagan

Former East Bengal and Gokulam Kerala striker VP Suhair has joined Mohun Bagan

Coming to the Indian contingent, Mohun Bagan brought back the experienced Dhanachandra Singh, along with Ashutosh Mehta. They have also made loan signings in Nongdamba Naorem and Alexander Romario Jesuraj from Kerala Blasters and FC Goa respectively. Further, they have bloodied youngsters like Sk. Sahil, Subha Ghosh and Kiyan Nassiri from their youth team. Surabuddin Mollick and Lalram Chullova have jumped ship from arch-rivals East Bengal. To add more attacking panache, VP Suhair has joined the club from Gokulam Kerala.

Outs

Vital players from last season, Dipanda Dicka and Kingsley Obunemne have joined Minerva Punjab and Aizawl FC respectively. While Yuta Kinowaki has announced his retirement from professional football. Mohun Bagan's talisman, Sony Norde has joined Azerbaijani outfit Zire FK. The Indian duo of Pintu Mahata and Abhishek Ambekar have swapped shirts to join East Bengal. Meanwhle, players like Abinas Ruidas and William Lalnunfela joined TRAU FC and Aizawl respectively. Midfielder Sourav Das has joined Indian Super League outfit Mumbai City FC, while Egyptian winger Omar Elhussieny was also released.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Debjit Majumder, Shilton Paul, Sankar Roy, Michael Soren. Defenders: Arijit Bagui, Fran Morante, Bikramjeet Singh, Lalchhawnkima, Gurjinder Kumar, Dhanachandra Singh, Lalram Chullova, Daneil Cyrus. Midfielders: Britto PM, SK. Sahil, Kiyan Nassiri, Lalramzauva Khiangte, Joseba Beitia, Francisco Gonzalez, Nongdamba Naorem, Romario Jesuraj, Surabuddin Mollick, Sk. Faiaz, Shilton D'Silva. Forwards: VP Suhair, Salva Chamorro, Subha Ghosh, Azharuddin Mallick.

Fixtures

I-League 2019-20 Mohun Bagan Fixtures

Mohun Bagan's fixtures for I-League 2019-20 season

Formation & Tactics

Kibu Vicuna likes to play possession-based football, with a target man upfront. He prefers either a conventional 4-4-2 or a more balanced 4-2-3-1 formation, depending on the opposition. In recent times, he has also opted for a flat 4-3-3, adding balance to the midfield. I-League 2019-20 Mohun Bagan Probable Lineup

I-League 2019-20: Mohun Bagan Probable Lineup

Fran Morante will lead the backline, with Daneil Cyrus partnering him in central defence from time-to-time. Lalram Chullova and Gurjinder Kumar will be the preferred choices at right and left-back respectively. Players like Bikramjit Singh, Lalchhawnkima and even new arrival Ashutosh Mehta will also allow Vicuna more options at the back. Debjit Majumder looks to be the pick between the sticks. I-League 2019-20 Mohun Bagan Probable Lineup

I-League 2019-20 Mohun Bagan Alternate Lineup

In midfield, Francisco Gonzalez plays the typical No. 8 role, with young defensive midfielder Sk Sahil sitting deep and doing all the dirty work for his team. Beitia loves to play with freedom and this formation allows him to do so, as the 28-year-old will pull the strings and create openings in the opposition defence. Nongdamba Naorem has been the player with the cutting edge on the left flank, while Julen Colinas will look to add more creative impetus from the right side. VP Suhair will be the lone man upfront. Salva Chamorro can also be used if needed, as he adds that physical presence in the final third and is deadly from set-pieces.

Strengths

The new setup has been together for quite some time now and they have created a good understanding between themselves. While they play a possession-based style of football, they can also change the pace of their gameplay in transition, catching the opposition off guard at times. The Indian contingent at Mohun Bagan, have the quality to match their overseas teammates in every aspect and this is the best stage to step up and prove their mettle.

Weakness

The absence of a proper goalscorer may haunt the Mariners big time this season. While Chamorro has scored the majority of their goals, he has also squandered most of the chances and with him in the team, the gameplay becomes very one dimensional, which the coach would like to avoid.

Players To Watch

Joseba Beitia

Joseba Beitia Mohun Bagan I-League 2019-20

Joseba Beitia is a fan-favourite among the Mohun Bagan faithful

The Basque midfielder is already a fan-favourite among the Mohun Bagan supporters for his ability to carry the ball forward, find the right passes and his overall ability to keep the midfield ticking. Beitia is the creative nucleus of the side and is also excellent from set-pieces. He has all the qualities to become Vicuna's main driving force this season.

Nongdamba Naorem

Nongdamba Naorem

Naorem (R) is one of the most exciting youngsters in the ranks of the Mariners

The youngster has matured a lot under Vicuna in this short period. Naorem has been a mainstay for Mohun Bagan on the left flank and his ability to take on defenders gives the Spaniard that cutting edge upfront. The former Indian Arrows man is a great dribbler and with more maturity and decisiveness in the final third, he could be the next big thing in Indian football.

SK Sahil

Another youngster recently promoted from the junior team, Sahil has shown grit and passion for the crest. He has delivered whenever he was trusted by Vicuna and has grown in stature with every game. While he is still far from the finished product, the 18-year-old is a vital cog in the Mohun Bagan midfield.

What To Expect

If Mohun Bagan can stay true to their potential, there is no stopping them and they have shown that in pre-season. The "never say die" attitude in this side makes it a special unit and it Kibu Vicuna can solve their goalscoring woes, there is no reason why they should not challenge for the title.
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