We profile the major ins and outs from the Mariners and tell you what to expect from them next campaign.
Mohun Bagan had a disappointing outing last season when they barely finished in the top three in the I-League, before being given a reality check by Bengaluru FC in the Super Cup. It seems like they have realized what their team has been lacking ever since a chunk of players left to play in the Indian Super League and have made some crucial signings after the end of the Super Cup.
The Mariners have brought in 13 new players to their 25-man-squad for the next season and some big names have been added to that list. While they have had to let go of key players like SK Faiaz, Nikhil Kadam and Raynier Fernandes, Bagan have made up for the losses by signing some equally talented players. They include the likes of Avinash Ruidas, William Lalnunfela, and Henry Kisseka, who has been their “star signing” of the summer so far.
Ricardo Cardozo (Goalkeeper)
He played in the last match of the I-League this season where he witnessed Minerva clinching the title
Ricardo Cardozo has been brought in by Mohun Bagan as a back-up to Shilton Paul, who enjoyed an excellent season last time around. Cardozo played only a single game for Churchill Brothers last season in a loss to Minerva Punjab away from home.
Mainak Akuli (Defender)
The local lad has been signed from Salkia Friends Association, which is a local club playing in the lower divisions of the Calcutta Football League.
Amey Ranawade (Defender)
Amey Ranawade might not have been much of a feature for FC Goa in the Indian Super League but he was drafted into the team during the Super Cup semi-final against East Bengal. The defender produced a commendable performance against a full strength East Bengal and also did well at containing the dangerous Katsumi Yusa.
Lalchhawnkima had a decent outing for Aizawl FC after he was loaned out to them by Mumbai halfway through last season, something which caught the eye of Mohun Bagan. The Mariners signed up the defender, who will be looking to be an important cog in their defence next season. He can become a regular for them if he shows consistency now that Bagan doesn’t have that many options in central defence.
Abhishek Ambekar (Defender)
Abhishek Ambekar was a vital part of the title-winning team of Minerva Punjab last season in the I-League, where he had an impressive outing as their left-back. Ambekar proved to be very strong overall and seemed to relish the challenge of keeping out Deepak Devrani from the team. He was not only rock-solid defensively and played a big part in them keeping seven clean-sheets last season, but also showed blistering pace and skill going forward.
The left-back spot was somewhat of a bother for the Mariners last season, but now that they’ve acquired the services of Ambekar, that can be solved. He will probably be the first choice left-back for them and can definitely help improve their defensive quality.
Brittoo PM (Left Mifielder)
Britto is another former-Churchill player to be bought by Bagan
Britto PM had a breakthrough season for Churchill last campaign where he made quite an impact for them down the left wing. He was often the source of Churchill’s attacking moves and was a menace for defenders. He not only displayed an impressive burst of pace, but his close control and eye for goal make him a real threat to any opposition.
William Lalnunfela (Forward)
William Lalnunfela really introduced himself well to the Kolkata football scene last season when he scored a brace to earn a 2-2 draw against East Bengal in Aizawl’s first game as defending champions in the I-League. The young striker possesses a real poacher’s instinct in front of goal and can be lethal on occasions, but needs the help of some talented attackers to reach his full potential.
Bagan definitely saw his potential when he downed their rivals last season and they signed him up as an understudy to Aser Dipanda Dicka next season. Lalnunfela can definitely learn a lot from the Cameroonian and will be given a chance to impress in the CFL.
Darren Caldeira (Central Midfielder)
Darren Caldeira didn’t really have an ideal season for ATK last time and couldn’t do anything to turn around their disappointing campaign. He was given a lot of opportinities by manager Ashley Westwood and even though he did well to keep things moving in midfield, he lacked an attacking spark.
Now, Caldeira has a chance to prove his doubters wrong next season when he can really compete for a place in the Bagan team. Given that Cameron Watson and Raynier Fernandes have left the club, there is one spot left open in midfield and Caldeira has to earn that. He will be given some playing time in the CFL, but he needs to produce some impressive performances to win over coach Sankarlal Chakrabarty.
Moinuddin Khan (Attacking Midfielder)
Moinuddin Khan perfectly introduced himself to the Indian Football scene when he scored the equalizer against Mohun Bagan and earned a point for Minerva Punjab when the I-League kicked off last year. Khan was really impressive as an attacking outlet for his team and played especially well against the Mariners in both matches.
Khan has proved to be a versatile attacker as he can play as an attacking midfielder as well as a second striker. He will blend into Bagan’s system pretty well and will have the opportunity to do something better for them. Khan can definitely improve as a player with the talent around him and he can be the X-factor THAT the Mariners need if he finds some consistency.
Tirthankar Sarkar (Attacking Midfielder)
Tirthankar Sarkar had a great outing for the Bengal team in the Santosh Trophy earlier this year and played a big part in their impressive outing. Sarkar has a sweet left foot and used that to craft some beautiful moves for Bengal throughout the tournament. He’s also got an eye for goal and is a brilliant set-piece taker, which can come to good use for the Mariners next season.
Abhinash Ruidas (Left Winger)
He played 12 matches for the Islanders this season
Abhinas Ruidas’ transfer to Mohun Bagan has been a controversial one because of his past as an East Bengal player inviting some heat from their fans. Ruidas left Bengal in a very bitter manner and will definitely look to get Bagan over them in the upcoming season. He had a bit of a topsy-turvy season at Mumbai City the last term, where he was deployed as a left-back by Alexandre Guimaraes.
But, Ruidas actually played well, which gives even more advantage to Bagan who can use him as a full-back or as a winger. With that said, Ruidas will most likely play as a winger as he has been brought in as Nikhil Kadam’s replacement.
Jiten Murmu (Forward)
Jiten Murmu has already proved to be a lethal striker on the Kolkata football scene at a very young age and that’s what made Bagan sign him. Murmu was the captain of the Bengal Santosh Trophy team and scored many goals in the campaign despite being out for a few matches. Not only does he have great predatorial instincts as a striker, but can also play deep and create chances for his team.
He has the qualities to become a top striker and the Mariners will look to hone those skills in the upcoming season. Murmu will get his chance to impress in the CFL and needs to bang in some goals in order to get an assured spot in their squad in the I-League.
Henry Kisekka (Forward)
Henry Kisseka has been the “big” signing for Bagan this summer and the Mariners will put a lot of weight on his shoulders in the upcoming season. Kisseka was in stunning form for Gokulam Kerala and performed really well against even the big teams, scoring four goals.
Probable Starting XI:
Shilton Paul will definitely continue as the regular goalkeeper for Bagan next season, but there will be changes to their defense. While Arijit Bagui and Kingsley Eze will retain their places at right-back and centre-back respectively, Lalchhawnkima and Ambekar will most likely fill the other centre-back and left-back spot with more potential central defenders to be signed soon.
There will be a flat four-man midfield as usual for the Mariners, with Yuta Kinowaki being certain throughout the season. Young Azharuddin Mallick will mostly be deployed as a right winger with Ruidas on the left-hand side. Sarkar, Caldeira, and Shilton D’Silva will have to fight for the other spot beside Kinowaki in the centre of midfield.
Possible Mohun Bagan Starting XI next season
The front two will be that of Kisekka and Dipanda Dicka and Bagan will rely on the duo to fire on all cylinders. The Mariners have a decent cover with Murmu and Lalnunfela being prolific strikers along with young Moinuddin who can also play in the forward line.