I-League: Balwant Singh goal gives Mohun Bagan A.C. win over Churchill Brothers
Balwant Singh scored a goal in the 28th minute as Mohun Bagan A.C defeated Churchill Brothers in the I-League.football Updated: Jan 08, 2017 23:32 IST
There will be better comeback stories in sport but Balwant Singh will take this. Almost 11 months after he last played a competitive match because of injury, Balwant returned to action in Mohun Bagan’s opener of the 10th I-League against Churchill Brothers and 28 minutes later, his powerful header put Mohun Bagan ahead.
It stayed that way despite Mohun Bagan looking rusty in front and playing with 10 men for 26 minutes after under-22 left-back Subhasish Bose marred his debut with bookings in the 55th and 64th minutes. The red card forced Mohun Bagan into sacrificing wide left Kean Lewis for left-back Prabir Das. With defensive midfielders Sehnaj Singh and Pronay Halder in the roster --- the two played 20 minutes on Sunday --- Mohun Bagan could struggle to end matches with 11 on the pitch in this edition. Sehnaj Singh stabbed Aniston Fernandes and escaped with a booking in the 43rd minute.
Without any foreigners and with a team of young players, Churchill Brothers couldn’t exploit the advantage of an extra player but substitute Agnelo Colaco rocked the horizontal in second-half stoppage time. Earlier, Seriton Fernandes had driven wide after a communications break-down between Das and Mohun Bagan goalie Debjit Majumder.
Balwant, who turned 30 on December 15, shares his birthday with Bhaichung Bhutia. His strike too would remind those old enough at the Barasat stadium of the many Bhutia scored, leaping to meet Pritam Kotal’s delivery from the right and connecting sweetly. Balwant Singh is “hands down” the best Indian striker, tweeted former teammate and Trinidad and Tobago international Cornell Glen and though Jeje Lalpekhlua, who was on the Mohun Bagan bench, could have something to say to that, for now the green-and-maroons would go along with the assertion.
Balwant missed the third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) because his left knee hadn’t healed since February 20 against Sporting Clube de Goa. The first Indian to score in ISL history had aggravated it by playing through pain and it needed constant supervision by Mohun Bagan’s Brazilian physio Djair Garcia Miranda to get the striker fit. In Kolkata, Garcia is known as Father Teresa for tending to injured players who are not with the club that employs him. And Singh, who joined Mohun Bagan after a stellar show with Churchill Brothers in 2013-14 when he scored 10 goals in 22 games, would surely owe Garcia a lot. Because he was without a club then.
“It takes a lot of heart to come back after injury keeps you out for nearly a year. We can’t always play Balwant and Jeje together because there will be a foreign striker. Hopefully, this goal will give Balwant a lot of confidence,” said Sen.
Mohun Bagan 1 (Balwant 28)
Churchill Brothers 0
First Published: Jan 08, 2017 23:32 IST