The Mohun Bagan boss made the astonishing assertion in response to a question about Pintu Mahanta possible call-up to the Blue Tigers’ camp.
Mohun Bagan came back from behind to win 2-1 against Mohammedan Sporting in their final Calcutta Football League match of the season at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. After The Black Panthers had gone ahead through a beautiful goal from a tight angle by Phillip Adjah, the Mariners rallied back with a curling free-kick from Tirthankar Sarkar and athunderous left-footed effort from Pintu Mahata helping them end their CFL campaign with a thrilling win.
Sankarlal Chakraborty was a happy man after watching his side give such a positive performance, even after going behind. “We started the CFL by winning and finished it by winning as well. The trophy also came with us,” he said. Talking about Tirthankar’s excellent free-kick he said “Tirthankar scored many goals like this at the Mohun Bagan Ground earlier this season as well. He’s a very quality player and a real free-kick specialist.
He also spoke about whether Bagan coming from behind impressed him and said, “Of course. After going behind, winning the match was very difficult. The game was going in spaces and was not going continuously. Our players didn’t get discouraged after going behind. They kept on going for the winner and earned the result. If we don’t play after many days there’s some rustiness. Even after playing so many days, the way they played was admirable.”
When asked about Ricardo Cardozo’s error for the goal they conceded he said, “The other goalkeepers got a great outing, but for Cardozo it was his debut. The defenders should’ve done better to put in his foot, but we’ll do well to improve that part from now.” He spoke about the great team spirit right now and said, “Our dialogue at the start of the season was that our own respect, the club’s respect is the utmost. The potential of the team is shown after winning it even after going behind.”
When asked about the Bengali players’, namely Pintu Mahata’s development he said, “There is improvement needed in Pintu’s game. There’s a lot of quality in him, that’s why he’s playing in the Mohun Bagan team.” About winning the CFL title after eight years he said, “I can’t speak about any rumorus linking me to East Bengal as it would be disrespecting our opponents in Mohammedan Sporting.”
Pintu praised his coach for his development and said, “The work Sankarlal sir has done for my development is something I’m grateful for. They are the ones helping me improve and gain experience at the top.” He also spoke about his own performance, “Both the goals I’ve scored in both teams are great.”
Sankarlal also spoke about Bengali players, “We still have a long way to go. The juniors are being guided to perform at their best at the top level. We need to control them not to lose their focus with media hype or fans’ pressure. The I-League is much tougher than the CFL and they’ll need more stamina, speed and improvement to play well in that league. Pintu’s performance in the practice sessions will guide whether or not he’ll play in the I-League. There’s a lot of practice needed.” he added.
Sankarlal remained coy when asked about the rumours linking Sony Norde with a return to the club and said, “We are going to discuss the Sony situation later. There is going to be a meeting for the I-League season and we’ll talk about that later on.”
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The Mohun Bagan gaffer also explained the reason for the Mariners’ great physical conditioning throughout the season and said, “Samiran Nag has also done a great job after Garcia left. He’s done well in maintaining the great physical shape and condition of our players and dealt with injuries well. Our team’s scoring, in the end, is because of great energy and Samiran is the reason for that.”
When Mahata was asked whether or not he can get a national team call-up with his performances, his coach gave a glaring comment saying, “If he plays well in the I-League, he cannot play in the national team. That’s a fact.” to end his presser with a bang.
On the other hand, Mohammedan technical director Raghu Nandy spoke about the turning point in the match and said, “The free-kick was the turning point of the game for me. They gained a lot of momentum from that and we should not have conceded that.” When asked whether Adjah’s inclusion earlier in the season could’ve helped them lodge a better challenge he said, “Of course. Adjah played our last four matches and he scored four goals in tose and helped us earn many points. The kind of striker he is, he can easily have a positive impact on the team.”
He seemed to shrug off opinions about the Black Panthers underperforming on the day and explained, “We didn’t really play badly today. We needed better penetration in the final third and to create better than the chances we got. Mohun Bagan scored from a set-piece and a counter-attack, so it isn’t like they played extremely well today.”