I-League setback in Bagan’s historic Asian Champions League journey

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
  • Updated: Jan 28, 2016 15:27 IST
Mohun Bagan’s Jeje Lalpekhlua (maroon) in action against Tampines Rovers in the Asian Champions League qualifiers in Kolkata on January 27. (Ashok Nath Dey/HT Photo)

Mohun Bagan’s historic victory was soured within minutes of returning to the dressing room where they were given the news that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) hasn’t adhered to their request of deferring their next I-League match against DSK Shivajians in Pune on Saturday.

By virtue of this win, Mohun Bagan are next slated to face China’s Shandong Luneng Taishan FC away on Tuesday.

It was assumed that the AIFF would postpone the DSK Shivajians match to allow Mohun Bagan some time to adapt to the harsh winter in China.

The AIFF’s decision however dealt a serious blow to the I-League champions who now might have just one day before their next Asian Champions League match, leaving coach Sanjoy Sen almost seething.

“I was delivered the news when I returned to the dressing room. I am surprised. This happens nowhere. I have asked the club officials to look into the matter but frankly I feel frustrated,” said Sen after their victory.

Mohun Bagan now plan to take a bus to Mumbai after the Pune match and take a flight to Beijing Sunday morning. They are expected to reach Jinan in Shandong by evening, which means they would have just one day before the match. Moreover, Mohun Bagan would have to play an I-League match at home on February 6 after returning on February 3. “I think it would have helped the AIFF if we had lost this match,” said a Mohun Bagan official who didn’t want to be named.

Sen however didn’t forget to applaud his team for being the first Indian team to win a match in the Asian Champions League.

“It could have been 5-1. Cornell Glen could have had a hattrick. At one point of time we were 2-1 and that’s always a scary scoreline. Thankfully we sustained the pressure to score again,” he said.

Sen said he doesn’t want to think too much about the record of being the first Indian team to win at this level. “Every record is bound to be broken. But yes this was the first time I faced a stage this big. Tampines Rovers are brilliant in their cross-field play. It was a team victory but we can learn from mistakes,” he said.

Sen however said a little more support from the stands could have inspired Mohun Bagan even more. “If you see the derby and then this match you can see the gap. And that’s disappointing. They could have easily packed the stadium today,” he said.

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