Both coaches displayed contrasting emotions after the game.
Mohun Bagan found themselves dropping two points at home yet again when they played out a 0-0 draw against Neroca FC in the I-League Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday. It was a frustrating day for the Mariners, who despite the return of key players Sony Norde and Ansumane Kromah, couldn’t do anything to break the deadlock and were denied a victory by the stubborn Neroca side.
This draw means that Bagan are currently in 3rd place in the I-League standings and can fall behind their rivals East Bengal after this week, as the Mariners have had a rather poor run after the Kolkata Derby winning only one out of their three matches. Manager Sanjoy Sen didn’t seem like a happy man after losing out on a win on the day and seemed worried about Sony Norde’s injury late into the game.
He was asked to give an update on the Bagan’s captain and said, “The doctors will reveal the extent of the injury later on. I’m not in a position to give a diagnosis right now as I’m very protective. Everyone was asking yesterday whether or not Sony will play, but now we can see what can happen playing with an injury. We’ll get to know about the extent of his injury in a few days.”
He continued: “It was my decision to play Sony. He’s the captain of the team and called me this morning saying that he wants to play. So, we needed to respect that, but now it’s a worrying sign as this could further keep him out for the season, about which we’ll find out in a few days.”
Sen was asked whether these wasted points are taking away Mohun Bagan from the title race to which he answered, “No, never! We’ve wasted six points so far, but now we have to give much more effort and need to recover these points by winning the away matches. I told the boys in the dressing room that we have to win our next two home matches and need to show some desperation to win the away games in order to be champions. I never think that we’ve backed down from the race after a draw.”
He was also asked about the inefficiency from his foreign stars on the day, especially from Aser Dipanda Dicka to which he replied, “If our players are to miss four one-on-one sitters, then we have no right to win the match. You are going to be punished by that.
He added, “You don’t get many goalscoring opportunities and when you waste one-on-one clear cut chances, you cannot expect anything. It’s not that he got only one chance at goal, he got multiple clear-cut chances but couldn’t finish any of those. That’s okay, I hope he recovers in the next couple of matches.”
He was then asked whether the chemistry in his team’s attacking game has disappeared after the derby to which he replied, “You need a consistency for the chemistry. I tell the players about this all the time. We’re lacking that consistency right now in midfield.”
Neroca FC coach Gift Raikhan was definitely the happier manager on the day and he was asked why he played so defensively throughout the game to which replied, “It was not defensive, it was careful. We are never defensivel. Neroca’s team also plays attacking football. But, being an away match, we have to be careful. Mohun Bagan tried to score and did two which were ruled out, but we did well defensively because of being wary of their threat.”
He was then asked whether he was happy with a point to which Raikhan answered: “I’m so sorry, I’ve lost two points. I would have won it. My final answer is, the coach always wants to win. We played football against Mohun Bagan who are a very big team. We tried to work hard and had a plan, which was executed successfully.”
Norde and Kromah didn’t look fully fit, so Raikhan was asked whether that was an advantage for his team, to which he answered, “I don’t know how fit they are. But when they run, they are very fit. We had a plan to not let them play freely.”
Aryn Williams put on a great shift at center-back and the Neroca coach was asked whether he’ll be featured in that position more frequently. He answered, “He used to play both center-back and defensive midfielder. I’ve played him in defense because of Gouramangi (Singh’s) injury, but he’s naturally a holding midfielder. In the last two matches which we won, Williams was the stopper.”
Finally, he was asked whether he was satisfied with the performance. “I’m not satisfied with the team performance. But, I’m satisfied that we drew with Mohun Bagan away from home.”