Mohun Bagan have also lost their first match in the ISL after their debacle in the Durand Cup and AFC Asian Cup. Lost at home to Chennaiyin FC. Mohun Bagan will again play against a southern team on Sunday. But that is in the field of Kerala Blasters. A few days ago, Kerala defeated East Bengal, who were runners-up in the last ISL, at the Nehru Stadium in Kochi. So for Juan Ferrando’s team to get three points against them can be said to be quite difficult. Before leaving for Kerala, Mohun Bagan defender Pritam Kotal said, “The next match after this match is the derby. So we want to beat Kerala and get that extra morale back.” There is nothing wrong in what Pritam said. But what will that be?
The season has just begun. All parties still have room to correct many mistakes. Mohun Bagan has played six matches in Durand Cup, AFC Cup and ISL. In these six matches, two of their problems are becoming very apparent. First, there are many gaps in the deep defense. Ferrando is playing three backs this year after leaving four backs last year. Because of the two foreign centre-backs he prefers to bring in, Paul Pogba’s grandfather, Florintin, is now as clear as daylight that he has become a stagnant dust, no matter how much fanfare he receives. So the other center back is playing in three backs with Pritam Kotal and Shubashis Bose next to Australian Brendan Hamill. Pritam-Shubashis are not used to playing in three backs. So it is difficult for them to adapt. You have to eat goals every day. If that is the number one disadvantage, the number two disadvantage is the lack of positive strikers. Roy Krishna has to pay the price of letting go. Krishna is a box striker. Instead of him, Ferrando wants to do the work of scoring goals with the midfielder Dimitri Petraros. Dimitri has barely played a match. He can be said to have failed without a good pass extension in the first match. But in one match, one’s qualification cannot be determined. So Dimitri will have to give some time.
But to become a player like Roy Krishna’s Abhava Dhaka, Dimitri has to adapt quickly with the rest of the team. But in the role he was seen in the first match, he seemed more interested in creating goals than scoring goals. But Mohun Bagan needs goal scorers. Mohun Bagan have foreigners like Johnny Cauco, Hugo Bumo or wingers like Liston Colaso, Ashiq Curonian and Manbir Singh to solve this problem. They don’t always score goals. But he scored. Manveer Singh scored in the first match. Liston Colasso scored seven goals last year. But they are not strikers. Wingers can get goals, maybe Mohun Bagan will get them. But the striker has to do the real work. Someone at Mohun Bagan needs to become a genuine striker.
Kerala is a balanced team. There are foreigners as well as Indians who can win matches. Alvaro Vasquez and Jorge Pereira Diaz left their team. But there is Adrian Luna, last year’s successful midfielder. He scored in the first match against East Bengal. Two new foreigners have arrived in Kerala. Apostles Giannu and Demetrius Diamantokes. Last year’s Victor Manzil is with him. The first two will take time to adjust to the team. But Luna AA Manzil is old. And the new striker Ukraine’s Ivan Kalyanzhi has made his mark against East Bengal. Scored a pair of goals in just ten minutes. Sahal Abdul Samad is very reliable among Indians. In defence, Harmohanjot Khabra continues to blossom even at an advanced age. Kerala’s Serbian coach Ivan Vukomanovic has been with the team since last year. He knows his team as well. Same with Mohun Bagan. Kerala cannot deal with Mohun Bagan. You know that too. Bagan has won three of the last four matches. But those four matches were played in Goa ground. This time the stadium will collapse at home in support of Kerala. They have this advantage. So it is very difficult for Mohun Bagan to beat Kerala on Sunday. But not impossible.
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