Why the upcoming Kolkata Derby is crucial for Khalid Jamil?
Written by: Atrayo Bhattacharya
The 41-year-old tactician was appointed as the Mohun Bagan head coach only a few weeks ago.
"The final whistle signals the start of a party for one side of Kolkata as the other remains in misery," said the commentator after Mohun Bagan prevailed over eternal rivals East Bengal during a Kolkata Derby.
The fairy-tale man from Aizawl FC's famous I-League triumph, Khalid Jamil was asked to replicate the same at East Bengal and register his name in Indian football folklore. However, fast forward to the end of last season and Jamil had failed to win the league for the Red and Gold Brigade and hardly holds a single good memory of the Kolkata Derby, as the Mariners did the double over his side last campaign.
But, the tables have turned this season and how- Shankarlal Chakraborty then Mohun Bagan manager has resigned after the Mariners experienced a winless streak in the term, which saw them fall off from the title race. Jamil has taken over the role at Bagan and has steadied the ship since. But, the much-awaited Kolkata Derby awaits and Jamil will look to dust off his past memories and write his new legacy in this fixture.
His reputation was somewhat dented after his time in Kolkata, as the tactician decided to take time off from the I-League after leaving East Bengal and joined Mumbai's Elite Academy, coaching young, aspiring players.
Jamil has never won a Kolkata Derby match
Jamil is the youngest coach ever to win the league and he sometimes doesn't get the credit he deserves. He often got criticised for his pragmatic approach to many games, especially the crunch fixtures. There was much fuss surrounding his management of the players and the former Aizawl boss did not have a great end to his first stint in Kolkata. However, now at Bagan, he has that opportunity to prove his critics wrong by winning the upcoming derby, which will also be the main motive of the players, as the Mariners will want to end their season on a high.
Things have not gone to plan for the Mariners in the last two league campaigns, on both occasions they have found themselves in an almost similar position. A shaky start, a mid-season downfall, resignation by the coach and finally resurgence under a new coach. With fans having a go at the management for various reasons, the only thing that can lift their spirits is the highly-anticipated derby and a win over their eternal rivals.
Mohun Bagan have been very dominant in this fixture, as the Mariners remained unbeaten for seven consecutive derbies, but that streak came to an end with their defeat in the reverse fixture last month. So, now is the perfect time for Jamil and his players to give the supporters something to cheer for. Especially, with their hopes of winning the league almost over, it will be a natter oif sheer pride for the players and the club as a whole.
There is no denying the fact that the match will be a test of nerves, but the biggest disadvantage for Jamil will be the lack of time he's had at the helm. The former East Bengal coach joined the Mariners just a few weeks ago and despite winning his first two matches in-charge, he would have liked more time with the players, to know their strengths and weaknesses, help him implement his ideas in crunch fixtures. However, the man from Mumbai is known for working and winning against all odds, exactly what he did at Aizawl.
In the past, Jamil has been overprotective and went with a very pragmatic 4-1-4-1 formation. His teams generally sit back and attack on the counter, as he lets his opponents enjoy the majority of the possession. Since coming to Bagan, the tactician has addressed the defensive structure, which has been the main cause of their downfall this season and since then the Mariners have not played the best fluent football, but have not conceded a single goal in the last two fixtures. Jamil will be hoping to be more balanced in his approach to the big game and learn from his past mistakes.
With the big fixture just around the corner, it is a golden opportunity for Jamil to silence all his doubters, who have often criticized him for surrendering under pressure in crunch games. With the Mariners' season already in the doldrums, it will be a sheer test of character and the side which tackles pressure the best will gain the bragging rights.
Published: Fri Jan 25, 2019 01:09 PM IST