In his post-match press conference after Mohun Bagan’s goalless draw against Mumbai FC in the I-League at the Cooperage on Wednesday night, Sanjoy Sen was upset with plenty of occurrences on the pitch but held his nerve to see out the questions without a meltdown.
The Mohun Bagan head coach was particularly careful with words as a previous post-match press conference had landed him in hot water with the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Mumbai FC were depleted due to injuries and players being on national duty at the South Asian Games. Playing the defending champions of the I-League, they seemed content on a draw, breaking up Mohun Bagan attacks every now-and-then with a professional foul. From the stands it seemed like there was a lot of kicking and not all of them on the ball.
Five Mumbai players were booked. Mumbai FC midfielder Pratik Prabhakar Chowdhary —given a yellow card in the first half— was lucky to have avoided a second following a late challenge near the half-line which fetched just a warning.
Queried, Sen said he would have liked to complain but feared a reprimand. “I would like to say that the referee should have made the decision but then we risk being served ‘show causes’ and penalties for criticising the referee,” he said.
“Anywhere else in the world, we can say something but if we do it here, we risk getting fined.” Sen, 55, is entitled to his opinion but over-the-top criticism of a referee draws punishment in most football leagues.
Sen also pointed out an incident where a Mumbai FC player simulated a challenge in the penalty area and struck the ball with his hand in the process. “There was another incident where the player struck the ball with his hands intentionally. Anywhere else, it is a direct red card, but not here,” he said, referring to Ashutosh Mehta’s indiscretion that brought on him a booking.
Earlier this month, Sen was served a show cause notice by the AIFF for statements against the federation after Mohun Bagan became the first Indian team to win a round in the Asian Champions League qualifiers on January 27. They lost 0-6 to Shandong Luneng Taishan of China in the second round away and were eliminated.
Sen has complained of fixture congestion after the 3-1 win in Kolkata against Tampines Rovers.
Asked if he would put in a formal complaint against the supervision, Sen said it wouldn’t be in his best interest to do so. “The show cause is one thing but it also adds more problems to put in a complaint. If we are looking to challenge for the title, it might come back to be a problem for us later on,” Sen said.
Clearly, being reprimanded once was enough for Sen to not make impassioned statements.