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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Mehtab Hossain farewell soured by Mohun Bagan loss to Arrows

Mehtab Hossain, whose club football career spanning over two decades was inversely proportional to the time he got in an India shirt, ended his time as a professional footballer after a 1-3 loss to Indian Arrows

football Updated: Feb 28, 2019 23:40 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Kolkata
Mehtab Hossain being celebrated by Indian Arrows players.
Mehtab Hossain being celebrated by Indian Arrows players. (Twitter)
         

Mehtab Hossain, whose club football career spanning over two decades was inversely proportional to the time he got in an India shirt, ended his time as a professional footballer after a 1-3 loss to Indian Arrows here on Thursday, the result summing up a disastrous I-League campaign for Mohun Bagan. This was the second time in successive rounds that Mohun Bagan lost 1-3.

Barring an interception in the 42nd minute when he stopped Rahul Kannoly who was clear on goal, Hossain didn’t do much, the central midfielder’s performance as much an index of his waning powers as it was of his team imploding against India’s development side. With 12 points from their home games, Mohun Bagan have 26 points after 19 rounds. Immune from relegation, Arrows, who are currently seventh, ended their campaign on a creditable 21 points.

Leading by a 17th minute goal from Azharuddin Mallick, the result of a tap-in after a delivery from Sony Norde found its way through the legs of three Indian Arrows players, Mohun Bagan conceded on either side of half-time.

Abhijit Sarkar made it 1-1 in the 28th minute, helped in no small measure by Mohun Bagan’s stand-in goalie Ricardo Cardozo. Slotted between the posts because Shilton Paul was shown the red card in the last round, Cardozo was unable to grip a hopeful free-kick from Anwar Ali fired from nearly 30 yards. The ball bounced out of Cardozo’s grip and Sarkar tapped it in.

By the time it was 2-1 in the 74th minute --- Kannoly running in to fire home after Amarjit Kiyam found Boris Thangjam on the right and he side-stepped Mohun Bagan central defender Kingsley Eze’s early challenge to play it back for the assist --- the young guns were running their rivals ragged. Kannoly, who had found Thangjam early after cutting in from the right only to see the right back unable to get a touch, was adjudged the match’s best.

Cardozo’s evening became a nightmare in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time when, caught by an awkward bounce outside the 18-yard box, he tried to head his way out of trouble and only got as far as 89th minute substitute Rohit Danu who fired home from distance.

Hossain’s last game was watched by less than 4,000 people at the Salt Lake stadium. Given the armband --- he had in his pomp led Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, an honour accorded to not many --- Hossain played his second full match of the season.

The somewhat damp farewell was redeemed by Arrows players chairing Hossain, doing the Viking clap with him and lifting him again on the other side of the pitch. By then, all Mohun Bagan players had trooped off. They returned for a brief pitch-side ceremony.

“Most of the Arrows players had barely learnt to walk when I started playing. That they acknowledged me made it special. Not winning the I-League will always hurt as will not playing more than 33 games for India but for someone who came from a village wanting to play football,I think I got more than what I had wanted,” said Hossain, 37.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 21:07 IST