The Mariners will be looking to regain the title they won in 2014…
Last season’s performance: Runners-up
Even after a promising start, the Kolkata giants failed to retain the league as they were dethroned by Bengaluru FC with a mere two-point gap. However, Mohun Bagan failed to win some important matches due to lack of penetration and finishing ability, with ace attacker Cornell Glen being sidelined most of the season with injuries and due to the lack of experience and leadership in the two team. In the Kolkata Derbies played against arch-rivals East Bengal, the Mariners lost one and drew another. Though some disappointing times were present for the Green and Maroon faithful, a 5-0 win over the league leaders Bengaluru FC was enough to keep the confidence intact for the Kolkata giants.
The mid-season appointee, Sanjoy Sen has been retained by the Kolkata giants to coach Bagan this season. Since his arrival in 2014, Sen has been phenomenal in terms of grooming young talents of the club and in adding more fresh faces to the side.
Sen has been the Head Coach of two other Indian football teams. His managerial career started with Prayag United in 2010. While coaching the Kalyani-based team, Sen ended his first season in eighth place.
He was later appointed the Head Coach of Mohammedan Sporting Club in Kolkata in the 2012-13 season where he excelled with his tactical masterclass leading the team to win the I-League 2nd Division and gain promotion to the I-League 2013-14.
On 8th December 2014 the Bengali coach was appointed as the Head Coach of Mohun Bagan and in his first season, he led the Green and Maroons to win their first I-League title since the beginning of the tournament. He was also nominated for the FPAI Coach of the Year award on two consecutive occasions since his appointment at Mohun Bagan.
The Kolkata giants had missed out on their second I-League trophy last season due to lack of creativity and injuries throughout the season. Considering both factors closely, the club has brought crucial reinforcements in their ranks as well as getting rid of deadwood. They have secured the signings of new talented players and have retained several other important players.
Retained: The Kolkata-based club has successfully retained two of their star players in the last edition of the I-League. Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sony Norde, who were astoundingly impressive for the I-League runners-up side were heavily persuaded by arch rivals East Bengal and defending I-League champions Bengaluru FC. Despite the interest, both the Indian and the Haitian internationals have decided to stay with their current club for the upcoming season.
Transfers In: Mohun Bagan have signed five first-team players this season. Their lack of goals lasrt season has led them to sign Salgaocar ace striker Darryl Duffy. Duffy has been a summer signing for the club but has already played in the Calcutta Football League (CFL) scoring six goals in eight appearances. The club has also brought in FC Pune City centre-back Eduardo Ferreira to bolster the defense. He’s a ball playing centre-back, with goal scoring and set-piece abilities among his many traits. Mohun Bagan have also persuaded Anas Edathodika, another defender from Indian Super League franchise Delhi Dynamos to join their ranks. The Green and Maroons has also brought in an additional goalkeeper in Pawan Kumar, who will be competing with Debjit Majumder, Shilton Paul and Shibinraj. Sehnaj Singh, part of the title winning squad of 2014-15, has also rejoined the club in the last transfer window.
Transfers Out: Mohun Bagan have also let some of their players go in order to bring the new faces. Cornell Glen being one of the star players of the Mariners to leave the club in order to join Ozone FC. Glen was one of the most sought after attackers in 2015. However, his injury-prone season forced the club’s hands in letting him go. Other players, such as Lenny Rodrigues, Deepak Devrani and Abhishek Das have also left the club to play for other Indian clubs. Rodrigues was sold to defending champions Bengaluru FC whereas Devrani and Das were sold to I-League newcomers Minerva Academy FC. 18 other players who did not make the first-team cut or were not selected for the forthcoming I-League were also released.
Formation and Tactics
Sanjoy Sen himself wanted to keep the core of his team intact for the upcoming I-League season because of the players’ understanding of the 4-4-2 diamond wide formation and their flexibility in changing to the 4-4-2 double six formation or the 4-2-3-1.
In the previous season, Mohun Bagan often suffered in the opponent’s box because the opponents flooded the midfield cutting off the supply to their forwards. The team could not change its formation from 4-4-2 diamond wide to 4-2-3-1 quickly enough to adapt to the increasing presence of opposition players in midfield. Sen’s physical approach of direct football with pacy counter-attacks needed a quick ball-playing defender and a poacher.
Mohun Bagan managed to persuade Delhi Dynamos defensive pair Eduardo Ferreira and Anas Edathodika and Darryl Duffy of Salgaocar earlier in the transfer window. The defensive will prove to be exactly what Bagan need. Eduardo and Edathodika are expected to interchange positions and act as defensive cover when either one goes forward or when the formation changes. Whereas Duffy is expected to be vying for the through balls from the midfield and finish them off.
Man to Watch: Darryl Duffy
Despite being a summer signing, Duffy is indeed the player to watch for Mohun Bagan in the I-League. The Scot has already bagged six goals in eight appearances for the Kolkata giants in the CFL. However, it has been reported that the 32-year-old is still adapting to the pitches and the formation of the Mohun Bagan squad and one can expect him to perform up to his usual standards or even better when the I-League begins.
The sole target for Sen and his squad this season is to win the I-League once again. Shortly after his appointment as the Head Coach of Mohun Bagan, Sen managed to win the crown for the club for the first time in years. Last season, despite several good performances, Mohun Bagan fell two points short of champions BFC. However, after several new signings and the deserved time for coach Sanjoy Sen to prepare his squad accordingly to his standards, Bagtan will once again be right in the mix of the title race.
Editorial by Khel Now’s Kolkata Correspondent Sourav Dey Neogi.