Score : 2 - 1
Team: Hudson Lima Silva, Sangram Mukherjee, Jewel Raja, Murali Joseph, Kingshuk Debnath, Dhanarajan, Anwar Ali, Rahim Nabi, Odafa Okolie, Sunil Chhetri, Jose Ramirez Barreto (C),
MB Goals: Josh Ramirez Barreto ( 84 min ), Odafa Okolie ( 50 min ).
Opp Goals: Michael Mattriciani ( 67 min ).
Replacements: Hudson Lima Silva ( out - 55 ), Gouranga Dutta ( in - 55 ), Odafe Onyeka Okolie ( out - 60 ), Rakesh Masih ( in - 60 ), Murali Joseph ( out - 46 ), Ashim Biswas ( in - 46 ),
McDowell Mohun Bagan extend winning start in I-LeagueKolkata , 28-Nov, 2011
McDowell Mohun Bagan continued their winning start to the I-league by beating Chirag Kerala 2-1 at YBK today. Odafa Okolie and Jose Barreto were the scorers for Mariners.
However, injuries to the 2 key players of the team, Jose Barreto and Odafa Okolie will be a matter of concern to Subrata Bhattacharya and Prashanta Banerjee. At the post match press conference, Prashanta Banerjee said that both the players have got muscle injury (Barreto - calf muscle, Odafa - groin) and whether they will be able to travel with the team to Goa and Pune will be decided within a couple of days.
McDowell Mohun Bagan Technical Director Subrata Bhattacharya made a couple of changes in the starting lineup. Jose Barreto and Murali Joseph replaced Manish Maithani and Gouranga Dutta. The goalkeeper and 4 defenders remained unchanged. In the midfield, Jewel Raja and Hudson Lima were in charge of the flanks while Murali Joseph and Jose Barreto played in the central midfield. Sunil Chhetri and Odafa Okolie were the 2 forwards.
The home team made their intentions clear as they launched a series of attacks within the first 10 minutes. From Hudson Lima's through pass, Nabi's cross got partially cleared by the Chirag defence, but Murali's pile-driver from outside the box was nowhere near the target. A couple of minutes later, Odafa brilliantly headed the ball towards unmarked Dhanarajan in the right flank, who made a great run but instead of crossing the ball he himself took an angular shot that went straight to goalkeeper Sharath.
Sunil came close to scoring when Barreto's brilliant through pass, found him in a 1:1 situation with the goalkeeper, but Sharath came out of charge to make a good save. Barreto once again was in the thick of action when his brilliant through pass found Dhanarajan in the flanks but his poor cross was cleared for a corner.
Chirag Kerala earned a couple of corners in quick succession but soon after Odafa was tripped just outside the Chirag box, but the resultant free kick by Barreto hit the wall. Barreto attempted a back volley but could not connect the ball properly and Sharath had no problem in collecting the ball.
Around the 40th minute mark, Odafa took a grounder from edge of the box from Sunil's pass, but it narrowly missed the target.
Towards the end of the first half, Chirag Kerala came close to scoring twice. Shahbas's head just went over the crossbar from a close range and in the next minute goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee stretched himself fully to make a good save.
Just after lemon break, Ashim Biswas replaced Murali Joseph. McDowell Mohun Bagan was lucky not to concede a goal when Vineeth failed to head home from a handshaking distance of the goalkeeper.
Odafa Okolie gave McDowell Mohun Bagan the lead in the 50th minute. The ball went out of Chirag goalkeeper's hands and an ever-alert Odafa latched on to the loose ball and slotted it home past 2 defenders.
Barreto-Odafa combination almost resulted in another goal. From Barreto's pass, Odafa made a good run down the left side, then passed the ball back to Barreto who, however, could not keep his shot down as it sailed over the crossbar. In the next minute, Barreto's cross from the left missed the goal by a whisker.
In the 55th minute, Gouranga Dutta came in place of Hudson Lima. However, within 3 minutes after this change, Mariners received a major setback when Odafa suffered a groin injury and had to be replaced with Rakesh Masih. Masih and Barreto played in the central midfield while Ashim moved upfront to join Sunil Chettri in the striking zone.
Barreto set up a nice ball which went to Gouranga Dutta via Sunil Chettri, but Sharath once again made a good save and dived forward to collect the ball.
In the 66th minute, Sangram made a stunning save as he denied Vineeth from scoring. However, in the next minute, Michael Matriccani restored parity for the team from Kerala as he lobbed the ball over Sangram's head inside the goal. Had Sangram been a yard or two behind, perhaps he could have saved the ball.
From Jewel Raja's pass, Barreto's long ranger went way over the crossbar. Sangram had a good match as he once again made a couple of good saves and kept McDowell Mohun Bagan in the game.
Barreto then switched position with Ashim Biswas and played upfront with Sunil Chetry. Eventually it was Barreto magic in the 84th minute which ensured full points for the Mariners. Barreto was pushed from behind just outside the opponent box. His brilliant free kick found the far corner of the net with the goalkeeper beaten hands down.
If the stunning goal by Barreto was the best moment of the match, what followed few minutes later was to be seen to be believed. Jose Barreto got an injury in his calf muscle and went out of the ground, but he again wanted to come in (hats off to this spirited Brazilian known for his courage and involvement with the team) as he thought in his absence Mohun Bagan would be reduced to 10 men. But we saw Technical Director Subrata Bhattacharya vehemently protesting Barreto's decision and made him sit out the rest of the match. Only a brave-heart coach like Subrata Bhattacharya can take this decision. When Barreto himself wanted to play, any other coach would have allowed him to play. Had Mohun Bagan conceded a goal in the last 5 minutes playing with 10 men, full blame would have been given to Subrata. Despite knowing this, he took the great risk for the larger interest of Mohun Bagan and Barreto. This also gave the necessary confidence to the 10 players in the field, and they fought hard to keep the citadel intact till the final whistle.
Full credit should be given to Subrata Bhattacharya for the way he has transformed the body language of the whole team. When he took charge of the team, the team spirit was at an all-time low with no motivation whatsoever. Not only he has boosted the morale of the team, he has also given confidence to all the players who are giving their best in the ground. The players are having such faith in their T.D. that after every goal scored by McDowell Mohun Bagan, the goal scorer and other players are seen rushing towards the sideline to celebrate the goal with Subrata Bhattacharya.
Jose Barreto was adjudged Man of the Match and he collected his cheque of Rs. 35000 from Hon'ble Sports Minister of West Bengal, Madan Mitra, who was seen jumping with joy in VVIP Box along with General Secetary, Anjan Mitra, after Barreto scored the winning goal.
After the match, coach Prashanta Banerjee said, "Though we did not play to our potential, but the most important thing is that we have got full points from today's match. Actually, midfield failed to perform and did not look organized today and this put big pressure on the defenders. Whenever we attacked through short passes, we created chances, but most of the time we made a big mistake of playing via long balls and their defenders were quite tall due to which we were not able to make much inroads into their defence."
McDowell Mohun Bagan will play their next match against Dempo which will be played in Goa on 2nd November.
Odafa Okolie is a Nigerian footballer who joined McDowell Mohun Bagan at...