Mohun Bagan’s plea of insufficient light 12 minutes from time led to their championship round match of the Kolkata league against United SC being abandoned in Kalyani on Friday. The match was tied 0-0 at the time.
It will be replayed on Sunday and the kick-off advanced 45 minutes to 3pm, according to revised fixtures issued by the Indian Football Association on Friday. As a consequence the East Bengal-United SC match was pushed back to Tuesday but the season-ending Kolkata derby will be held on Thursday as scheduled under lights.
Not the first time
This was the fourth time this season that Mohun Bagan didn’t complete or didn’t start a game. The 124-year-old club conceded their first two games in the local league protesting against striker Tolgay Ozbey’s transfer from East Bengal which had been stalled. Last December, Mohun Bagan refused to play the second half of an I-League match against East Bengal citing security reasons.
The decision cost Mohun Bagan all points accumulated till that 10th round away game and a fine of Rs 2 crore before the All India Football Federation bent its rules and allowed them back into the competition.
On Friday, both teams needed a win to stay alive in the competition where East Bengal lead with an all-win record from six games in the title round. Mohun Bagan had 16 from six two more than United SC who have played as many. Mohun Bagan did waste a number of chances in the first half but given the circumstances the bland performance, especially in the second half, did surprise.
“It’s the end of the season and obviously the players are tired. However, I am grateful to my boys for trying their best to win the trophy amid all the difficulties,” said Karim Bencherifa, the Mohun Bagan coach. He didn’t elaborate but Mohun Bagan players have complained about four months’ unpaid salaries and on Thursday got one month’s pay.
United SC, it seemed, were keen on continuing but referee Prabir Dhar and match commissioner Supriya Bhattacharya upheld Mohun Bagan’s claim first made by goalie Shilton Paul. They waited 20 minutes and called off the game seeing the light worsen and evening descend.
United SC coach Eelco Schattorie is scheduled to leave for home in Oman on Saturday they will play their remaining games under assistant-coach Anjan Nath.