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All you need to know about ISL debutants Mohammedan Sporting Club

Published at :June 19, 2024 at 1:43 PM
Modified at :June 19, 2024 at 1:44 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar


Mohammedan Sporting had a brilliant I-League season in 2023-24.

Club Name: Mohammedan Sporting Club

Nickname: The Black Panthers

Year Founded: 1891

Home Ground: Mohammedan Sporting Ground, Salt Lake Stadium

Owners: Bunkerhill Private Limited (51%), Mohammedan Sporting Club Private Limited (49%)

Head Coach: Andrey Chernyshov

League: Indian Super League

Mohammedan Sporting will become the third club from Kolkata to participate in the Indian Super League (ISL) from the 2024-25 season. This comes after the Black Panthers won the 2023-24 I-League title, which gave them automatic promotion to the top division of the Indian football ladder.

Even though Mohammedan Sporting have had their issues in the last decade, they are one of the most decorated and oldest clubs in the country. They have won several prestigious trophies in the past and often outdid the likes of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on the national scene too.

Ahead of Mohammedan’s anticipated debut in the ISL, here we look at everything any fan needs to know about the Black Panthers.

Club History

Mohammedan Sporting were formed way back on 22 February 1891 in Kolkata and paved the way for many Indian teams with their impressive rise in the pre-Independence period. The Mohammedan Sporting team of the 1930s were particularly impressive and set many notable records.

The Black Panthers became the first All-Indian team to win the Calcutta Football League in 1934. They won the title five times in a row from 1934-1938 as well. Moreover, Mohammedan also became the first Indian team to win the Durand Cup and Rovers Cup (in 1940). In 1941, they scored over 100 goals – becoming the first Indian team to do so.

The Black Panthers have maintained their impressive dominance after the Independence period. They won the 1948 CFL, becoming the first team to win it in the post-Independence era. Moreover, Mohammedan also became the first Indian club to win a tournament on foreign soil at the Aga Khan Gold Cup in Bangladesh in 1960.

The Black Panthers are glittering with trophies in their history. They’ve won the IFA Shield six times, the Federation Cup and Durand Cup twice and the CFL 13 times. They are the defending champions in the CFL, having won the 2023 edition too.

Coaching Staff

In 2023, Mohammedan Sporting brought back Russian manager Andrey Chernyshov as their head coach. He helped guide them to win the 2023-24 I-League title after barely losing out on the title two years ago. The 56-year-old manager has a ton of experience under his belt, having managed the likes of the Russia U-21 national team, Spartak Moscow, Dinamo Tbilisi and Dynamo Bryansk in his career. He’s earned a reputation for encouraging free-flowing attacking football that helped the Black Panthers clinch the league title last season.

Mohammedan’s support coaching staff is as follows:

Assistant Coach: Alison Kharsyntiew

Goalkeeper Coach: Lalit Thapa

Physio: Soumya Bhattacharjee, Md. Belal Qureshi

Strength & Conditioning Coach: Arsalan Mirza

Performance analyst: Devrup J. Gupta

Masseur: Samir Gupta

Transfer Dealings

Mohammedan Sporting are still strengthening their squad ahead of their debut ISL season. However, towards the end of the previous campaign, the Black Panthers were able to rope in NorthEast United winger Rocherzela and Aizawl FC full-back Zoherliana on multi-year contracts.

They also had to let go of a few players after the previous campaign finished. The biggest loss was perhaps the departure of Argentine forward Eddie Hernandez, their top scorer last season. The likes of David Lalhlansanga, James Kithan, Lalshram Singh, Karandeep and Evgeniy Kozlov have been released as free agents too.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Padam Chettri, Rakibul Mallick, Jetli Sorokhaibam

Defenders: Thokchom James Singh, Karandeep Singh, Zodingliana Ralte, Dipu Halder, Mohammed Irshad, Samad Ali Mallick, Joseph Adjei, Vanlalzuidika, Deep Biswas, Mohammed Jassim, Zoherliana

Midfielders: Mirjalol Kosimov, Abhishek Halder, Sujit Singh, Wahengbam Angousana, Abhijit Sarkar, Meitalkeishangbam Roger, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Ganesh Besra, Laishram Bedashwor Singh, Yevgeni Kozlov, Tanmoy Ghosh

Forwards: Beneston Barretto, Prince Opoku Agyemang, Alexis Gómez, Denzil Kharshandi, William Lalgoulien, Bamiya Samad, SK Faiaz, Rocherzela

Tactical Formations

Primary: 4-3-3

Mohammedan Sporting excelled in a 4-3-3 attacking formation last season, which allowed them to unleash the maximum force of their attacking potential. In this formation, the team opted to have their defenders sit deep and a holding midfielder screening in front of them.

The wingers are urged to move more centrally and the midfielders are tasked to keep control of possession. This allows Mohammedan to defend in numbers whenever required, trouble opponents with quick counter-attacks and also helps with their slick build-up play.

Alternate: 4-4-2

Chernyshov uses this formation occasionally when playing against relatively weaker opponents or those known to sit deep in numbers.

It allows them to attack with more force, with as many as eight players on the front foot while one of the central midfielders sits back to protect the backline. This formation allows the Black Panthers to hound the opposition backline and get more men into the box for maximize goalscoring potential.

Strengths

  • Strong defensive core
  • Midfield options

Weaknesses

  • Lack of top-quality Indian players.
  • Lack of exposure to ISL.

Players to Watch

Alexis Gomez (Midfielder)

The Argentine midfielder was at the core of Mohammedan’s creative burst last season. He can get the ball into the right areas for his forwards to pounce on it and has a clever football IQ. He can also get into prime positions himself to score goals, as proven by his four goals in the I-League last season.

Rochharzela (Forward)

Rochharzela can be a highly entertaining figure with his impressive bursts of pace and dribbling ability. He has the knack for dancing past defenders with ease and getting himself into prime areas in the box. The winger needs to work on his final delivery to be a menace for Mohammedan next season.

Joseph Adjei (Defender)

The former Al-Ittihad defender is an intimidating presence at the back and played a major part in helping Mohammedan churn out so many clean-sheets last season. The 28-year-old is a hulk in terms of winning physical duels, can pass the ball around well and anticipates moves well enough to cut out trouble before it torments his team.

What to Expect

Mohammedan Sporting might come with a wealth of experience in Indian football, but they might experience some teething issues at first. The Black Panthers have to work hard in the transfer window to sign some quality foreign players if they want to make the same kind of impact Punjab FC did in the ISL last season.

The Black Panthers could face problems because of their lack of experienced Indian players, with most of their domestic ones lacking ISL experience. This can cause them to come up short in some matches.

However, Mohammedan Sporting’s dedicated fanbase can help them create some magic next season. They might be a stubborn, troublesome opposition because of their defensive sturdiness and Chernyshov’s clever tactics. Indeed, Mohammedan could cause a few surprises and push for a top-eight finish next season.

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