Two days after thrashing East Bengal, Mohun Bagan are on a higher perch — literally.
Through greenery greener than the jersey they wear, they have travelled past clusters of human habitation quaintly named Byrinhat, Nongpoh and passed the massive Umiam lake hemmed by a row of mountains on one side and dense vegetation on the other to reach Shillong where Lajong FC lie in wait.
It’s a world away from the steaming, heaving cauldron of emotions that the Yuba Bharati Krirangan was on Sunday. And forget talking about it in the way Kolkata just can't seem to stop, forget the open palm or the five-finger salute that Mohun Bagan supporters haven't had enough of; the Meghalaya capital seemed untouched by both the hurrah and the humiliation of the derby. One that has devoured a coach, stained reputations and catapulted Edeh Chidi into immortality.
It is just as well, Ishfaq Ahmed said. In a city whose cool breeze and mild sunshine reminded him of home, the midfielder from Kashmir said, “it is possible that we would have got carried away by the frenzy Kolkata is caught up in.”
Karim Bencherifa took it from there. “Ideally, I would have liked the boys to have enjoyed the moment. After all, having made history, the players deserve to enjoy. They would have loved to be in the middle of the buzz. But that is only if we had 10 days off before the next game.
“Given how the schedule is and that we would have had to play on Thursday, I would rather we did it outside Kolkata and in a place like this. There are no distractions here and although among themselves the players are still talking about the game, the focus ahs already shifted to Thursday's tie against Lajong FC," the Mohun Bagan coach said.
As pre-paid connections don't work in the Northeast, even the mobile phone isn't a distraction for most in the squad. It is almost like being in what is called concentracao in Brazil and Argentina where before big games players are put up by clubs in one residential area or hotel and cut off from the rest of the world.
“And we can keep the buzz going by getting three points from here,” Bencherifa said.