News of Mike Okoro and Eric Mputu’s impending arrival, the availability of Ndem Herve, Subhas Bhowmick’s full-throated assertion that he will stay even if Mohun Bagan and East Bengal offered him the world, and the return of Basudeb Mondal would have made Mohammedan Sporting seem all sweetness and light on Monday evening.
If only they had managed full points against opponents who till recently were preparing for the second division. “It will hurt us when we get to the home stretch,” coach Subhas Bhowmick said with confidence.
Bhowmick entered the media conference humming, perhaps because having seen more ups and downs in life than most, he is no longer unfazed by a bad result. A late goalline save too kept them in the hunt so maybe that explained Bhowmick’s post-match equanimity.
But had Md Sporting managed a victory against HAL in the fourth round of the NFL, maybe he would be singing.
From the fourth minute when Habibur Rahman flicked over Basudeb Mondal’s prompt to the 90th when Raman Vijayan headed wide, Md Sporting stuck to their task. Basudeb’s stunning volley from 25 yards was deflected into the horizontal by HAL goalkeeper Balaji and Subhasish Chowdhury’s header too ended there in the second half but mostly, their efforts were encapsulated by Vijayan’s left-footer which went out limply in second-half added time.
At the Barasat Stadium, Bhowmick switched from his solitary-striker game and gave Vijayan 32 minutes to make a difference. But for a team whose highest goalscorer in recent times has been a right wing-back, something had to give. So, when the final pass was not awry like in the 54th minute when Basudeb, Noel Wilson, Jatin Bisht and Habibur marred a neat sequence with a terrible lay-up, the finishing lacked finesse.
Md Sporting’s inability to use the left flank in the way Habibur sortied on the other side, meant HAL could channel most of their defensive manoeuvres on one side of the park. Central defenders Mohan Raj and Prashant Jaggi and Balaji, playing his first match in almost one year, did the rest.
The last time Basudeb played a full match was for Bagan against JCT in Ludhiana on May 21, 2006. Wearing a black-and-white shirt for the first time, Mondal showed he could still essay those passes that find mates in the clear and fire crisp long-rangers. Basudeb looked more comfortable once Wilson was brought up to support the midfield and Bhowmick is convinced he still has a lot to offer.
“He did not look rusty and did what I wanted him to do. As he gets more matches, he will improve,” Bhowmick said of his latest recruit. The coach is also convinced that once the foreigners arrive and Basudeb get better, Md Sporting will do well.
Mumbai: REIGNING CHAMPIONS Mahindra United suffered their first reversal when they tasted a solitary goal defeat at the hands of Sporting Clube de Goa at the Cooperage Ground here on Monday. Macpherlin Dudu Omagbemi scored for Sporting in the 42nd minute.