As I-League comes home, Mohun Bagan hope for a good Friday vs Indian Arrows | football | Hindustan Times
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As I-League comes home, Mohun Bagan hope for a good Friday vs Indian Arrows

Mohun Bagan are gearing up for an I-League encounter against the youthful Indian Arrows at Kolkata in which there are lot more than just three points at stake.

football Updated: Dec 28, 2017 22:45 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Mohun Bagan in practice ahead of their I-League encounter against the youthful Indian Arrows at Kolkata.
Mohun Bagan in practice ahead of their I-League encounter against the youthful Indian Arrows at Kolkata. (AIFF)

There is more to Friday’s I-League match between Mohun Bagan and Indian Arrows than it being a clash of the competition’ oldest and youngest teams. It is also about Mohun Bagan coming home. And they are doing it on a wing and a prayer.

It took Mohun Bagan over two decades to bring a national league match to the Maidan, the process being fast-tracked by a slew of injuries on the Barasat stadium’s artificial pitch. The emergency procedure, according to the 128-year-old club’s assistant-secretary Srinjoy Bose, means the arrangements made in a week could have been better even though they have fulfilled statutory requirements.

Last-minute additions

For this venue to be green-lighted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), Mohun Bagan had to ready an away team change-room area, set up a medical room, one for match officials and another for the match commissioner. On Thursday afternoon, finishing touches were being given to the new team benches and new goalposts moved in.

Around 16,000 tickets have been put up for sale and response has been very good, said Bose. A full house, therefore, is expected and everyone from Sony Norde, who is injured and unavailable, to goalie Shilton Paul and Bose issued separate appeals to the spectators, who can be notoriously volatile, to behave.

“We want to play at home just as you want to see us play here. So, please don’t react in a manner that could make the AIFF blacklist the Mohun Bagan ground,” said Norde.

So far, Mohun Bagan have been given permission to host Friday’s match and that on January 2 against Chennai City FC. “These two matches are test cases,” said Bose.

No draws, please

Coach Sanjoy Sen said it would be befitting of the occasion if Mohun Bagan, who drew at home against Shillong Lajong and Neroca FC in the last two rounds, bagged full points on Friday.

“Three draws equals (Mohun Bagan began with a 1-1 draw against Minerva FC) two losses and we can’t afford to drop any more points. Arrows can get players behind the ball and having been together for long under a good coach, they show cohesiveness in their game. But we should be able to combat that and win,” said Sen.

That would bring Mohun Bagan to 12 points, one short of current leaders East Bengal after six games. And it could be the start of I-League games being staged the heart of Kolkata.