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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

I-League: Emotional Mehtab Hossain set to bid adieu as Mohun Bagan take on Indian Arrows

“Football has always been my passion. Whatever I am today is because of football. I don’t want to warm the benches, the time has come for me to announce the decision,” Mehtab Hossain said.

football Updated: Feb 27, 2019 17:42 IST
PTI
PTI
Kolkata
File image of Mohun Bagan's Sony Norde (L) being tackled by East Bengal's Willis Deon Plaza (C) as Mehtab Hossain looks on.
File image of Mohun Bagan's Sony Norde (L) being tackled by East Bengal's Willis Deon Plaza (C) as Mehtab Hossain looks on.(AFP/Getty Images)
         

Mohun Bagan will be aiming to finish the home leg of their I-League campaign on a winning note against Indian Arrows on Wednesday in what would be a fitting farewell gift to the retiring midfielder Mehtab Hossain. The veteran midfielder, who returned to the green and maroon brigade after a long gap of 12 years this season, announced his decision to hang his boots prior to the game.

“Football has always been my passion. Whatever I am today is because of football. I don’t want to warm the benches, the time has come for me to announce the decision,” the 36-year-old, who returned to the Mariners after a gap of 12 years this season said.

For Mehtab, one of the most committed players of his generation, the biggest regret will be not winning an I-League title either with Mohun Bagan or East Bengal.

“Not winning the I-League will be the biggest regret and I wish I could have played more matches for the national team,” an emotional Mehtab said.

Mehtab donned East Bengal jersey from 2007-2016 when he was in top form and in 2015, he called it quits from international football after he was dropped from the 26-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers. In Indian Super League, Mehtab represented Kerala Blasters for the first three seasons before playing for Jamshedpur FC during the last season.

“Whatever popularity and fame I have received, it is because of my fans. I thank my coaches and officials for giving me the opportunity. I would also like to thank all my friends from the media fraternity as well. I thank all the football fans of Bengal those who have stayed beside me through thick and thin,” Mehtab said, adding that he’s looking forward to spend more time with his family. The 2014-15 I-League champions have managed to win just seven out of 18 matches to be out of title contention and a top five finish would be a realistic target for Khalid Jamil, who was roped in after Shankarlal Chakraborty stepped down midway into the season.

The season also witnessed Mohun Bagan suffering back-to-back defeats to arch-rivals East Bengal in both their legs, a first in 15 years.

In their last round, they lost to title favourites Chennai City in an away fixture and a three points would certainly lift the sagging spirits. Mohun Bagan’s biggest letdown has been over dependency on their Haitian star striker Sony Norde, who struggled with injuries and failed to make any impact on his return.

The home side would also hope Dipanda Dicka and Henry Kisekka are back among goals. Cameroonian Dicka, who has seven goals to his name, struck a double to settle the issue in the first-leg clash between the two sides. Jamil, looking for nothing less than a win said, “We are prepared for tomorrow’s match. We have to fight as we fought before and will be playing with a good team and the opponents should not be taken lightly. They are young and fight for every ball. This is our last home match of this season and we should be at our best.”

Mohun Bagan currently are sixth with 26 points from 18 matches while Floyd Pinto-coached Indian Arrows are a spot behind on seventh with 18 points from 19 matches.

Indian Arrows have lost two and drawn one going into Thursday’s game as they would play their final match. Arrows have exhibited no fear of losing and will look to finish on a high.

First Published: Feb 27, 2019 17:40 IST

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