Mohun Bagan draw Bhowanipore FC 1-1 in their Opening CFL 2024 Match

Mohun Bagan draw Bhowanipore FC 1-1 in their Opening CFL 2024 Fixture | Match Review

Courtesy: Mohun Bagan SG Media

Mohun Bagan did not have the start they expected in the Calcutta Football League as they drew Bhowanipore FC 1-1 this rainy and cloudy afternoon at the Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay Stadium in Barrackpore.

Bagan were dominated over by Bhowanipore FC in most parts of the game. There could have been more goals on both ends, with Bhowanipore forward Jiten Murmu missing two big chances while Bagan getting denied a probable late game penalty in their favour.

On Mohun Bagan’s Approach: Sloppiness can be Pardoned, Tactics Cannot.

Bagan entered the pitch with a flat 4-4-2 of sorts. The defensive line in front of Goalkeeper Raja Barman comprised of Amandeep Singh, Saurabh Bhanwala, Sayan Das and Raj Basfore from left to right, with Sibajit Singh and Engson Singh forming the Center Mids, Salahudheen Adnan K and Taison Singh at the wings and Suhail Ahmed Bhat and Fardin Ali Molla forming the double striker partnership.

Sloppiness can be pardoned, tactics cannot. Lack of Chemistry, mispasses and a general awkwardness is expected when you are playing the first match of the season under a new head coach. With Bastab Roy getting promoted back to Bagan’s first team as the Indian Assistant Coach, Deggie Cardozo has been brought from Goa and put in charge of developing our reserves.

Bagan seemed to be in a hurry while in attack. It seems that Cardozo is trying to implement a fast paced philosophy of attack, where it isn’t necessarily required for the players to patiently keep and rotate the ball around, rather trying to find spaces throughout the pitch and trying to reach the opponent box quickly, and this is a philosophy which will definitely require a bit more of time for the players to pick up.

Mohun Bagan’s midfield looked empty at times, as expected from a 4-4-2 formation, and there was a lot of space between the midfield and defensive lines as well as behind the aggressive full backs which were exploited by Bhowanipore well.

Mohun Bagan were caught in transitions quite a few times. (Courtesy: Zee 24 Ghanta Live)

Mohun Bagan, at times seemed clueless, solely relying on long balls from various points on the pitch towards the center or the wings and didn’t position players well enough to win the second ball, where as Bhowanipore glided through the midfield through quick grounded passes.

What Mohun Bagan did do well is the substitutions. Suhail and Fardin didn’t get the ball, Engson seemed clueless and Aman and Raj were being dribbled and ran past quite a few times. Salahudheen’s aggression was impressive, so were the cut ins of Taison, although he needs to release the ball faster.

However when Serto Kom and Brijesh Giri were brought in, the team looked more like how Mohun Bagan needs to be. Serto made brilliant runs and even got tackled in the box late game but the possibility of a penalty wasn’t entertained by the referee. Sibajit played good enough, he showed intent but he lacked support and had to resort to many long balls, mostly unsuccessful.

On Bhowanipore’s Approach: A Well Oiled Machine with Occassional Mishaps.

Bhowanipore had a fast paced build-up from back style, but were aggressive with fouls and lacked in finishing (Courtesy: Zee 24 Ghanta Live)

That being said, Bagan’s opponents today, who were playing their second game after scoring 4 goals past Police AC, were not only physically as well as technically and positionally superior.

Bhowanipore looked like a well oiled team. Their midfielders and wingers namely Riswan, Jojo, Chhangte, Bikram and Safiul have good ball control and are able to perform cheeky maneuvours to wriggle out of the Mohun Bagan press.

However they too gave away the ball when Bagan pressed well, albeit much late in the game, and did commit some dangerous fouls directly targetting the player instead of the ball.

Bagan scored early from a Sibajit free kick while conceded from a beautiful cross from the right, which could not be cleared off, and landed straight in front of the goal to the feet of Jiten Murmu who scored the equaliser.

Since Bhowanipore were a lot more athletic and speedy when it came to covering the spaces, their full backs were a lot more touch line hugging and in position, more so because of the physical assurance of Bhowanipore’s CB pairing of Umer and Madan, both of them being quite comfortable on the ball and having a good range of passing.

Bhowanipore have built quite a formidable team. They already take part the I-League 3, the fourth division of Indian Football, and would try their level best to progress further up in the National League structure. 

Mohun Bagan’s Upcoming Matches:

Today's ground condition deserves appreciation too as even with moderate rainfall, the grounded passes retained speed and the pitch wasn’t muddy. Bagan will play their next match in this venue too, against Rainbow AC on July 6, 3 pm onwards.

Rainbow too have been impressive and do possess the ability to give a strong competition to the Mariners in attack, although have issues in defence. They lost 3-2 to Calcutta Customs, another strong team, in their opening fixture.

The Bagan Reserves have definitely not reached the quality they themselves want to deliver at the moment. With more practice sessions, player rotations  (Abhishek and Dippendu expected to start soon) and game time, the playing style is only going to improve here on. 
The Derby is fast approaching, and Bagan only have one game before that to finalise their best XI and tactical exploits, and minimise some of the individual casualness.
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