Eduardo Ferreira scored for the away side, while Katsumi Yusa netted for the hosts.
NEROCA FC saw off Mohun Bagan 2-1 at the Khuman Lamapak Main Stadium in Imphal to climb to the second spot in the I-League table, having remained unbeaten for the last five matches.
Former Mohun Bagan player Eduardo Ferreira scored from a corner taken by another former Bagan star Katsumi Yusa to give NEROCA the lead in the 24th minute. For the remainder of the first half, Bagan chased shadows and tried to come back into the game. In the second, Henry Kisekka rose high to head home a cross to bring the Mariners back into the match on the hour mark.
Aryn Williams however, had other ideas. His tame shot somehow found its way into the goal amidst some pretty lackadaisical defending from Mohun Bagan and NEROCA could have piled on even more misery had their forwards been more clinical.
Here are some talking points from the game:
5. Could the goalkeepers of both sides have done better?
Both the custodians made silly errors
Both Sankar Roy and Lalit Thapa were at fault for the goals that their sides conceded. Being the last man in front of goal, they are expected to be steadfast and capable of making quick, smart and correct decisions. In the case of the final goal in the game, former Bagan midfielder Katsumi floated a corner into the box.
Here, Roy tried to come way off his goal-line in order to clear the ball, but he couldn’t get even a sniff of it. The ball instead fell to Williams’ feet whose rather weak shot found its way into the goal vacated by Roy. Could the goal have been avoided if he had stayed on his line and focussed on saving the attempt from Williams instead? Definitely.
A similar blunder was also apparent when Thapa came off his line in the second half to punch the ball away, but Kisekka rose high above two NEROCA players and Lalit’s gloves to head the ball home. Thapa would have been better suited to make the save had he stayed in goal and not come out to clear the ball, which he eventually missed.
4. Is Sankarlal’s fickle team selection to be blamed for Mohun Bagan’s slump?
One bizarre note of Sankarlal Chakraborty’s recent team selections has been his obsession in starting with Azharuddin Mallick and then replacing him on the 35th minute mark with Sheikh Faiaz. He did the same in the Kolkata Derby, against Shillong Lajong and again in this game. If a player isn’t providing you with what you demand, it’s ideal to not start with him instead of taking the player off in the first half game after game and wasting a substitution.
Sankarlal’s decision of starting with squad players Darren Caldeira and Gurjinder could also be seen as a sign of not being respectful of NEROCA in an away game and as a result the team had to pay the price for it.
3. Should Lalchhawnkima have been sent off?
The Bagan #19 didn’t have a good day
There was an instance in the second half when Ferreira was steamrolling his way past the Bagan defence as he led a counter-attack and Lalchhawnkima appeared to have obstructed him off the ball. The challenge appeared to have been violent as Eduardo required treatment on the pitch and NEROCA coach Manuel Fraile and the supporters urged for the referee to produce a red card, but he only showed a yellow.
2. Why did Mohun Bagan lack ideas in attack?
Bagan’s attacks appeared to be concentrated down the middle and they did not stretch the pitch vertically and horizontally enough to find gaps in the NEROCA defence. Now, of course, the absence of Sony Norde and Pintu Mahata is being felt by the Mariners in this aspect of the game.
Mallick and Kisekka are not exactly mobile on the wings as they are more focused on the ball and drifting in centrally, where there is a defensive overload.
1. Could Mohun Bagan’s defensive instability take an even further toll on them?
Bagan’s defence has disappointed on many occasions in the big games, where they almost appear to fall asleep on certain occasions. This was particularly visible in the winner that Williams scored, where he received the ball in the box from a corner and his tame shot found its way past three Bagan players and the keeper.
For a side that wants to mount a serious title challenge, Bagan have leaked a lot of silly goals and Sankarlal admitted it in the post-match press conference after the Kolkata Derby. The defensive duo of Lalchawnkima and Kingsley haven’t been too solid and Sankarlal must find other answers real soon.