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Saturday, March 28, 2009

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Bagan let go of a golden opportunity!

Bagan needed to win their last 4 matches to keep the heat on Churchill Brothers for the League title. For Bagan in order to win the League, Churchill would have to loose a point from their remaining two matches, two rather easy matches against Air India and Mohd. Sporting, two teams languishing at the bottom half of the League table.
Today Mohun Bagan met JCT in Ludhiana for the 19th match and it Karim knew it would be no a walk in the park as JCT are a good side, and this season since they didnot have a good outing, the slightest possibility of them being relegated has sparked off some brilliant performances of late. At home, JCT would be a stiff competitor as they had defeated Sporting Clube de Goa last weak 2-0. Churchill Bros. also had their 21st match today against Air India in Mumbai.
Bagan started on an attacking note, making their intention clear that they have come for three points and their efforts were paid off. As early as in the 8th minute of the match, Manju stabbed in a free ball in front of the JCT goal which was sent in from a corner.
Bagan it seemed had done their job and became a bit complacent and JCT stepped on the gas and came up with a few positive moves and Bagan was lucky not to conceded from on such occasions, when the ball came off the Bagan post. Manju, however, came up with a goal line clearance at the closing stages of the 1st half.

Bagan had their share of chances too but Ishfaq and Bhaichung were way ward with their attempts, otherwise Bagan could have doubled their lead.
The second half saw Jct's Edu take the field and it was clear from Sukhwinder that JCT had no intentions of letting Bagan go away with three points.
It was action packed game with end to end action ensuring enough chances for both the teams to score but both teams lacked finishing. Edu missed a couple of chances and so did Bhaichung and Barreto.
However, in the 78th minute, JCT equalised through an own goal by Rahul Kumar, who otherwise had a good game on the right back position with good overlapping runs and sending in precise centres.
Karim did bring on Branco, 10 minutes from regulation time, but to no avail.

It seems of late, the team is suffering from conceding late goals. The team is becoming too complacent after the one goal lead and that is showing in their game and allowing the opposition to get on top of them.

Bagan however did not surrender to the fate and tried to squeeze the winner and in the injury time, Barreto's header struck the bar.
However, Bagan has been given another chance by Churchill. Technically, had Churchill won their match today against Air India, Bagan practically would not have had any chances for the League title. But Churchill today after taking the lead in the injury time of the first half, conceded a 90th minute goal to share points with Air India and to keep Bagan hopes alive. Bagan has to shrug off their complacent attitude and move on with their remaining games and win the remaining three matches and hope that Churchill give them an early Christmas gift in their last match.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Karim extends his contract as Bagan coach!

His first year as a coach in Kolkata, that too of the National club of India, Mohun Bagan AC, has been nothing short of excellent and hence Karim Bencharifa was offered another year to remain as the head coach of Mohun Bagan. Karim, however, pleased with the club's atmosphere, his cordial relation with the club official and happy with the love and affection he received from the Bagan fans, have decided to oblige and accepted the offer. Today, before he flew off to Ludhiana with his team to play JCT away from home, Karim Bencharifa signed a fresh contract with Mohun Bagan for another year, according to sources in the media.

However, Bagan officials are hopping that retaining Karim as the coach might help them recruit some quality players for the next season, as till now, Karim has been a successful coach in the Indian domestic circuit and players have high regard for the Moroccan coach.

Though according to sources, Karim have had a number of offers from both Indian and foreign clubs, Karim has stuck with Bagan and even the officials preferred Karim because of his so far successful stretch at Bagan and also because he has been able to maintain a healthy relationship with the Officials and also with the players, in times of crisis and in times of joy!

We wish Karim Bencharifa a successful 2009-10 season at Mohun Bagan!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bagan edge past Chirag to keep title hopes afloat

Mohun Bagan having five more matches to end their I League campaign are faced with the task of winning all the five matches just to be in the contention for the title, but still, to win the I League they have to pray that Churchill SC who are heading the table with just two matches left, do something really silly and may be give Bagan a sneak at the League title.
Bagan today were faced with the Chirag challenge and overcame Subrata Bhattacharya's boys, but United SC boys did not go down with out a fight.
From the minute the game started, Chirag were clear with their intention of not conceding a goal with eleven Chirag players defending in their own half, giving Barreto and Bhaichung no place to move. Bagan were compelled to play with the aerial ball but to no avail. Barreto and Bhaichung seemed ineffective upfront and the forest of legs inside the Chirag penalty box made life miserable for the Bagan forwards. Chirag did come out with some counter-attacks but Dipak and Manju were up to the task.
However, at the stroke of the half time, the inevitable happened. Chirag'splan of crowding the penalty box failed themselves as from a corner, Bhaichung headed a ball goal wards, and Chirag defender Arnab managed to put out his leg and push the ball in the back of his own net. Bagan went into the lemon break being a goal in front.
The second half had no surprises as Bagan kept trying to penetrate the Chirag wall, but failed and Chirag kept building their attacks by trying to catch Bagan on the break. Midway into the second half, Tulunga was virtually ineffective on the right flank, and was he was in urgent need of substitution, but Karim waited on on his options. Mohunraj kept chipping in with his blunders and giving Chirag chances to equalise, but Dipak and Sangram were upto the task. However, in the 75th minute, Chirag equalised through Snehahish, who was let in by Habibur and his left footer beat the diving Sangram.
Barely five minutes from regulation time, Bagan earned a free kick on the right flank. Marcos sent in a beautiful in swinging ball, which was met precisely by Bhaichung and sent in.
Again in the dying moments, from a ball from the right, Bhaichung headed in another goal, but was disallowed due to an apparent foul, which was never committed.

Team: Sangram, Habibur, Dipak, Manju, Mohanraj, Tulunga, Masih, Marcos, Ishfaq, Barreto, Baichung

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bagan fail to win after taking the lead against Al Widhat!

Bagan today came out to play against Al Widhat in their second AFC match and Bagan were no doubt impressive. From the beginning of the match it did not seem that the Indian team was cowed down by any pressure. In fact, with only Bhaichung Bhutia upfront, Bagan played much offensive and Bhaichung did take in a few shots but missed the target. Some quality flank play was exhibited by James and Ishfaq with their penetrative runs, but lacked the finishing. Rahul Kumar on the right flank matched well with James and together they sent in a few quality balls. And as early as in the 13th minute, Bhaichung, from one such balls, took the defense away with him and laid off a ball for Masih and the young mariner, took a shot in his stride that beat the keeper and tangled into the net. Bagan went 1-0 ahead, quite deserving.
However, it was clearly visible that Bhutia was lacking support upfront. His forward runs evading Al widhat defenders were laid to waste as both Lalkamal and Ishfaq were unable to read Bhaichung's moves.
Going one goal down, the Jordan team stepped on the gas and started playing some good ground football and after stringing together a few passes, sent in a centre at the second post, from where an AL Widhat player headed in a free header. AL Widhat equalised barely 5 mins after Masih scored.
Bagan still kept up the tempo tried to score a second, but quite against the run of play almost at the end of the 1st half, Al Widhat doubled their lead. The Al Widhat player took a shot on the turn and beat a diving Sangram.
The half ended 1-2 in favour of Al Widhat.
The second half started and Bagan still tried to get that equaliser. Karim put in Marcos in place of Lalkamal and Mama in place of James at the beginning of the second half and Mama with his short stature dodged into the Al Widhat penalty box in more one occasion and really kept the right wing active.
AL Widhat attacked in in intervals, but Sangram was good under the bar saving two well struck free kicks.
Near the end of the match, from a free kick, Rakesh Masih headed a ball goal wards, but unfortunately, hit the post and went wide.
Branco was introduced in place of Lalram and playing after a long injury, Branco was looking bright.
In the second half, Al Widhat pursued time wasting strategies and snatched an important away 3points from India.
Team: Sangram, Odafe, Dipak, Mohunraj, Rahul, Lalkamal(Marcos), Masih, James(Mama), Ishfaq, Laram(Branco), Bhaichung

Monday, March 16, 2009

Karim not looking for a miracle agianst Al Wedhat!

Bagan coach today reaffirmed his statement that AFC Cup 2009 is not his "priority", rather the I League is more important and he'd like to perform well in the remaining 6 matches of the I League and if possible win the league than ruining Bagan's chances of the League by giving stress on the AFC Cup. He also made clear that Bagan, has no doubt been placed in a tough group with all the three other teams hailing from countries which are ranked much better than India. In fact, today he placed Al Wedhat above Al Karameh and said it will be a tough match, even though at home. The boys did show surprise me in Syria by playing very well, but "Our opponents are not only physically strong, they are technically sound too", was Karim's reply to what are his chances in the AFC at the fag end of the season. He also laid stress that he is trying to keep fresh his key players, alot of new faces will feature in the Bagan squad in the AFC Cup. He may even rest Manju tomorrow. Marcos, who had picked up a slight injury, has been declared fit and if the coach feels, he may be fielded. Nothing was known about Bhaichung's pressence tomorrow, whether he will play or not, but sources claim, he may finally be in the starting 11, owing to the absence of Barreto, though both Bhaichung and Barreto were present in the practice session.
Mohun Bagan had a light training session at the Howrah Stadium today and then the visiting team, Al Wedhat spent some time on the pitch.
Al Wedhat had drawn their first match against Kuwait SC and incdentally they had also missed a penalty in that match in the 71st minute. The Al Wedhat coach claimed that he had seen Bagan's Al Karameh match and he thinks Bagan is a good side with professinal players who have potential and hope that tomorrow the two teams display some good football for the spectators to enjoy. Al Wedhat squad has 6 Jordan international players, but the team which had come to India has only two of them.
Last year they had defeated East Bengal in the group stage both at home and away matches and they boasted that this time they have an even better side.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A post match report! Al Karamah vs Mohun Bagan

After the end of the match a press conference on the game was held. The Bagan Moroccan coach Karim Bencharifa shook hands at the beginning with Al Karamah Captain Mohammed Qweid Park and congratulated him on the win.
In question to the coach of the Indian team regarding the level of his team, he said that the team was over at a difficult and critical stage in the Indian league. They have not won the league since 2001 and this year they have a good chance of winning it and that they are on the top 3 and that they have had a magical run of 10 consecutive wins in the league and hence the players are having to work hard and thus the team is suffering from physical and mental fatigue which has affected few of the key players, forcing him to the play in this match 4 players who are between the age (20 to 22) years and that this was their first participation in an official match, and that these players have performed well and that too on one of the first games and they were outside India. He is pleased at the team's performance, especially playing against a great and an ancient team in an Asian competition and that too in front a large audience enthusiastic and hungry to win.

In response to a question on the penalty he said that we had a chance to take the lead but this doesnot mean we could have secured the win, and said that the missed penalty has greatly impacted the morale of his team and was a turning point in the game, and that his team was also suffering due to the absence of the Brazilian, who plays at the center of the attack and is leading the team(Barreto). About his opponent, Karim said, “Al Karama are a well known for their Asian experience,” he said. “We played against a good side and their fans played a big part. “We had a chance to take the lead from a spot kick but this doesn’t mean we could have secured the win. I’m satisfied with the performance.”
When asked about Mohun Bagan, Mohamad Kwid, who guided Al Karama to the 2006 Champions League final said, “Mohun Bagan were an organised side and they played well. I watched their recent matches and knew that they would be dangerous. Mohun Bagan had a golden chance to take the lead through the spot kick and things would have been harder had they scored.” He added “We had a lot of chances to score in the second half but the Indian goalkeeper(Sangram Mukherjee) played well.”
In the other Group D match, Al Kuwait coach Laurent Banide was pleased the Kuwait League champions returned from their trip to Jordan with a point despite despite taking a first half lead against Al Wehdat through Faraj Laheeb. Amer Deeb earned the home side a point as he netted seven minutes after the hour mark. “After taking an early lead we continued to control the game but Al Wehdat attacked us well and even though we conceded the equaliser we held on to the point,” said the Frenchman. “We are in a tough group and earning an away point against a tough team is good from our opening match.” Al Wihdat were left to rue a missed opportunity to claim all three points as Al Kuwait goalkeeper Khalid Al Fadhli saved Mahmoud Shelbaieh’s 71st minute penalty. “We played against a big team who played well and their players were impressive. We didn’t play well in the first half as the players lacked concentration,” said assistant coach Jamal Mahmoud “In the second half we used the flanks and we managed to get back by scoring the equaliser before we had a chance to take the lead but Shelbaieh failed to score from the spot.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mighty Al Karameh struggle to get past an indfferent Bagan side!

Mohun Bagan had decided to give more importance to the I League and keep aside their AFC Cup aspirations keeping in mind that they are on pursuit of the Indian league and also considering the fact that they have been placed in a group of high profile Middle East teams.
However, after the first away match against the Syrian club Al Karameh, which boasts of making it to the finals of the AFC Champions Legue two years ago, Bagan coach will have to re-consider his decision of sacrificing the clubs AFC Cup hopes for the I League.
An indifferent and make shift Bagan team, with Barreto, Dipak and Habibur out, could have easily come home with three points from Syria inspite of the fact that Al Karameh had 9 Syrian National team players in their side and a support of a huge amount of home supporters egging them on.
With Rahul Kumar and Mohunraj as the two side backs, Odafe and Manju as RCB and LCB, the defense was below ordinary, missing the likes of Dipak and Habibur. A Bagan side without Barreto is never complete and today's team was no exception. Lalram Luaha, last played on September 12, 2008 in the last the CFL match, was replaced in place of Barreto. Yet, Mohun Bagan gave their best and went down by a solitary goal in the 59th minute of the match and now when Bagan will be hosting the Syrian side in Kolkata for the second leg, they do have a match in their hands.
It was however an even contest with Bagan getting chances to score in the first half on a number of occasions. Both Mama and Masih came close to scoring, but couldnot find the back of the net! However, the best chance came in the 43rd minute, when Bagan earned a penalty. Fortune was against the Kolkata side, as the reliable Marcos Perriera hit the Al Karameh gaolie.
The Bagan team showed a lot of positive intent today and seemed much more relaxed and composed. Sangram stood tall under the Bagan bar making some great saves. The second Leg promises to be an interesting clash with Al Karameh having a solitary home goal to defend.
We can only hope that in Bagan's Home match, Mohun Bagan get out there with the best they have and nail the Syrian side just as the Indian National team did to Syria in the Nehru Cup Final!
Team: Sangram, Mohanraj, Manju, Peter Odafe, Rahul Kumar, Ishfaq, Marcos Pereira, Rakesh Masih, Tulunga, Lalramluaha, and Bhaichung (captain).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mohun Bagan leave for Damascus

Mohun Bagan today will leave for Damascus to meet Syria's Al Karama in their 2009 AFC tie. Al Kamara, like Bagan is one of the oldest football clubs of Asia and is a hot contender for this year's AFC Cup.
Barreto out with a back injury will be replaced by Bhaichung Bhutia, but Bagan without Barreto, the team is down on confidence. Karim has been trying hard to revive the players from the two back to back defeats in the I League. Bagan coach confessed that this will be a very tough match for Bagan without Barreto, but also mentioned that AFC Cup, as of now, is not their priority- its the I League that is more important.
On Barreto's injury, the doctors opined that Barreto will be match fit after atleast 15 days. That means, Bagan will miss the services of the magician in the first two AFC cup ties and probably the match against Chirag Utd.
Bagan will be leaving for Syria with almost the same team that played against Churchill Brothers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bagan's title hope fading at a distance!

Mohun Bagan’s dream of winning the I-League suffered a massive jolt when they lost 1-3 to Churchill Brothers in Margao on Wednesday.
After Jose Ramirez Barreto put the visitors ahead with in the 29th minute, Churchill skipper Odafe Okolie’s header restored parity at the stroke of half time. Man of the match Ogba Kalu then scored a brace (58th and 76th).
Churchill now have 36 points from 18 matches and are ahead of Sporting Clube de Goa by a point. Bagan are in the third position with 33 points from 17 matches. It was Mohun Bagan’s second loss in a row in the I-League — East Bengal defeated them 3-0 on February 22 — and at present things are not looking that rosy for Karim Bencharifa’s boys. They lack the intensity and the zeal that was so much visible during that 10-match winning streak.
Bencharifa, in fact, found the loss similar to that against East Bengal.
“Like February 22, today also we had a bright start and got that early goal. But the equaliser and Barreto’s back injury disturbed our rhythm,” Bencharifa told The Telegraph from Margao.
The green and maroon brigade began brightly with Lalkamal Bhowmick and Shylo S. Malswamtluanga combining well on the right side. And their efforts paid off when Bhowmick found Barreto inside the box. The Brazilian brilliantly chested the ball down, which left his marker Rowilson Rodrigues and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya for dead, and on the turn hit a right-footer which crashed into the far corner. For the record, it was his 75th goal of the National League.
Churchill’s equaliser once again exposed Bagan’s discomfort when it comes to set piece movements. Sangram Mukherjee had no business in rushing out when Peter Odafe had things under control. Churchill’s Odafe punished the visitors with a smart header.
Bencharifa did not single out Sangram for the goal but conceded that his team never recovered from that.
Bencharifa said that he was finding it difficult to keep his team fresh. “On March 10 we have an AFC Cup match against Al Karamah in Syria. We have to prepare for that,” he said.
A Bagan source, however, revealed that some players, including Barreto, would be rested for the AFC Cup match. “I-League is the priority,” the source said.
Source: The Telegraph

MOHUN BAGAN ATHLETIC CLUB-The National club of India

A Short History:

MOHUN BAGAN AC-The National club of India, the oldest Club in Asia,
was established on 15th August 1889 when India was up in arms against her collonial head, England.

Eversince its establishment the Club had been winning a lot of local leagues and cups but the moment of greatness that surpasses all came in the year 1911 when Mohun Bagan AC became the first Indian club/team to defeat the foreigners in their own game of football.

On 29th of July 1911 Mohun Bagan won the IFA shield beating East Yorkshire 2-1. Eversince there has been no stopping!

The club has won and keeps on winning many a laurel for the country! It has made our Nation Proud!

According to FIFA rankings, in Asia, Mohun Bagan is the 16th biggest team to have an avg. home crowd of 19,888. According to World standards, Mohun Bagan has been ranked of 127 much ahead of other big clubs like Udinese(Italy), Benfica(Portugal) and Fulham(England) to mention a few.

It is however,not an easy task to consolidate the history of a club which is more than 117 years old*...(read more...)

*For Further Info:Please visit The Offical site of MAC: History section please open in a New Window

Location: Kolkata Maidan
Green and Maroon
Symbol: Sail Boat

Stadium: Mohun Bagan ground
Yuva Bharati Krirangan

MOHUN BAGAN AC- It's not just a club, it is an institution, a religion, a passion. LIVE IT...DIE FOR IT...

A Pictorial trip of the Mohun Bagan Ground!

Satellite Imagery of our Club Ground!*
*Open in a New Window please.
Images of Yuva Bharati Krirangan*
*Open in a New Window please.

Photos by: Soumyadeb Sinha
Photos by: Soumyadeb Sinha


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