The Ivorian scored five times in the Black Panthers’ win against Indian Navy on Saturday.
It was a game of two halves between Mohammedan Sporting and Indian Navy at the Mohun Bagan Ground in the Durand Cup Group B fixture. After a closely contested first half where both teams squandered chances, the second 45 saw a flurry of goals.
Arthur Kouassi scored five with Mudde Musa also finding his name on the scoresheet. Britto PM joined the party for the Indian Navy and scored a brace to narrow the deficit, as the Black Panthers mauled their opposition 6-2 in their second fixture.
Here are the talking points from the game:
5. Are the Indian Navy the best non-civilian team in this edition of the Durand Cup?
The armed forces have a rich history of featuring in the Durand Cup and some of the teams have also won the prestigious trophy numerous times. But, in this edition, the Indian Navy side has been very convincing. Head coach Abhilash Vashanta has marshalled his players very well and the likes of Novin Gurung, Dalraj Singh, Bhaskar Roy, Britto PM have all come together to put up a great fight against their I-League and Indian Super League counterparts.
Both the Army teams, Red and Green, have been underwhelming up until now. However, the Indian Air Force bagged a narrow 1-0 win against I-League newcomers TRAU FC. But, if we see the overall gameplay and cohesion, the Indian Navy side have been decent in all aspects. The scoreline can be misleading at times, as it was a game of two halves and the Navy squandered a lot of chances in the first, which came back to haunt them later on.
4. Did Subrata Bhattacharya miss a trick by not playing Shamshad Ali from the first match of the Durand Cup?
The standout player for Mohammedan Sporting was Shamshad Ali on the left flank. The young winger was a livewire on the field and kept Novin Gurung on his toes throughout the game. His swift movement and quick feet opened up the Indian Navy defence time and again. However, the forwards were unable to convert the final pass time and again in the first half.
Shamshad did not feature in both their games against Mohun Bagan and in the CFL against Aryan Club. But, looking at his pace and creativity he could have been a threat for the opposition defenders.
3. Have Mohammedan Sporting found the momentum they need for the rest of the season?
A very drab start to the campaign saw the Black Panthers face defeat against Mohun Bagan in the Durand Cup opening fixture. They salvaged some pride in their Calcutta Football League game earning a 1-1 draw against Aryan. However, Subrata Bhattacharya’s men have not been impressive in both the games and this win against Indian Navy will give them the momentum which they desperately needed.
This dominant display against the Navy will be a confidence booster for the Black Panthers. Players like Shamshad Ali, Tirthankar Sarkar, along with foreigners like Kouassi, Musa and Kareem Omolaja have likely found their mojo with this sublime performance. This win could be the turning point for Mohammedan as the season progresses.
2. Did the rain play spoilsport for the Indian Navy?
The rain came in during the second half and with that came Mohammedan Sporting’s killer instinct in attack. Kouassi, who was very poor in the first half found his feet and playing in favourable conditions, it helped the Black Panthers to put the Indian Navy on the back foot.
The Navy defenders found it very hard to manoeuvre the ball from defence, while the team also lost their flair mainly due to the muddy conditions. Mohammedan are familiar with playing in rainy conditions and hence, they benefitted from them and came back strongly.
1. Is Arthur Kouassi the man to take Mohammedan Sporting to greater heights this season?
The Ivorian striker found it hard in the first two games of the new campaign to adjust with the team properly. Kouassi struggled with his movement in the box and his hold up play and passing were also very wayward. He carried the nerves into this game as well, missing a lot of chances in the first half.
But a turn around in the second 45, saw the 29-year-old former Gokulam Kerala man breaking the deadlock for the Black Panthers. The opening goal gave the forward a lot of confidence. He was better with his movements and gradually became unstoppable in the opposition penalty area, scoring five goals. The Ivorian will look to carry this form into the upcoming matches.