Chase for the final round spot goes down to the wire in Group C

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club have a chance to qualify for the final round of 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League on the final match-day of preliminary round Group C but they will be up against an tricky Jamshedpur FC Reserves on Friday at the JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur, kick-off 3 pm.

With Chhinga Veng FC (20 points) already booked their place in the final round, three teams in Group C are separated by just one point and Mohammedan SC with 13 points from 9 matches are ranked fourth, owing to an inferior head-to-head record with local-rivals Rainbow AC, who also have the same number of points. TRAU FC are a point above the both Kolkata outfits given they have amassed 14 points in their 9 games so far.

A week ago, the Black Panthers were odds on favourite to make it to the final round following three successive victories. They have scored 13 goals in those three matches and conceded none, however, they faced a massive set back in their previous match when they were beaten 0-2 by Rainbow AC and now have to depend on others to reach the final round.

The Black Panthers will qualify for the final round if and only if they leave the ground with all three points in their last match and other results go their way. Nonetheless, TRAU FC or Rainbow AC’s win will anyway leave the Black Panthers empty-handed irrespective of the result in the Steel City.

If TRAU and Rainbow drop points in their last matches which will be against Chhinga Veng and ATK Reserves respectively, the Black Panthers will be able to seal the final round berth for the first time since 2015/16 season with a win over Jamshedpur.

Should both Mohammedan SC and Rainbow win their games and TRAU lose or draw theirs then Rainbow will go though as they boast a better head to head record over Mohammedan SC.

Meanwhile, TRAU are the only team amongst the three who are not dependent on any other outcome to reach the final round if they secure all three points against Chhinga Veng. They can also get the job done with a draw or even worse given that other two outcomes in Jamshedpur and Kolkata go accordingly.

Nonetheless, should all three teams end their campaign with same points; still Rainbow would make it merry thanks to their better head-to-head records taking all three teams into consideration.

“It will be a tough match. Jamshedpur are a very good side,” claimed Raghunath Nandy, the technical director of Mohammedan SC. “I always tell the players to focus on the match but not on the league table. We prefer to go match by match and it will be same tomorrow. I am not doing any calculation; this is the last game so we have to get three points. Let’s see what happens next. I am only thinking what is under my control.”

Rainbow dent Mohammedan’s final round hopes

KALYANI: Rainbow Athletic Club dented Mohammedan Sporting Club’s hopes of qualifying for the final round of the 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League after beating them 2-0 in an Preliminary Round Group C clash on Sunday.

In a tight game which could have gone either way, Rainbow AC scored on the either side of the pitch through Joel Sunday (4′) and Sourav Roy (90+2′) to hand Black Panthers their fourth defeat of the campaign.

Going into this clash, Mohammedan SC (13 points) were on second place in Group C. But now must beat Jamshedpur FC Reserves in their last Preliminary Round match and at the same time hope TRAU FC (14 Points) and Rainbow AC (13 Points) drop points in their respective matches in order to qualify for the final round first time since 2015/16 season.

Mohammedan SC, enjoying good support in the stands, started the match on the front foot and had a few promising moments early on, but were kept in check by Rainbow AC’s defense of Emmanuel Chigozie and Enjamul Haque. 

It was at the other end, however, where the opening goal arrived and it was Sunday who scored to give Rainbow AC the lead in the 4th minute.

Rainbow AC’s lead, overall, seemed a deserved, though, for the manner in which their pace at times embarrassed Mohammedan SC defence, such as in the 11th minute where, with Mohammedan SC defenders scattered on the ground, Sunday’s shot thundered off the upright.

Mohammedan SC though created many chances but failed to equalize, as they failed to stick to their passing game policy. The players seemed to be more keen on playing direct football sending long balls from the centre-line as the Rainbow AC defence held firm and ensured that they retained the advantage going into the break.

In the second-half, the sides came out of the changing rooms with different tactics. Mohammedan SC were the first to surge forward, once again with the blistering pace of Philip Adjah, but Rainbow AC’s defence were up to the standard and managed to clear.

Mohammedan SC had most of the possession as the game wore on. But Rainbow AC intelligently and stubbornly defended their lead.

And with the home team pressing forward, their could always be the chance the other way, materialising when Sunday’s pass picked out Sourav to produce a fine strike into the top-right corner to put the game beyond doubt.

Raghu Nandy Warns Against Complacency Ahead Of Rainbow Clash

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club may be on their best run of form in months, but technical director Raghunath Nandy has cautioned his players about getting overconfident when they face Rainbow Athletic Club in an crucial Hero 2nd Division League Preliminary Round Group C fixture on Sunday, kick-off 3 pm.

Nandy’s side head into the encounter on the back of a morale-boosting 6-0 win over TRAU FC, while Rainbow AC suffered a 0-3 loss against Jamshedpur FC Reserves.

The former defender reminded his outfit about the fine line between confidence and arrogance as they look to secure maximum points against their Calcutta Football League rivals.

“There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence – we need to stay confident without being too arrogant,” Nandy said ahead of the clash.

Although Mohammedan SC have been invisible in their last three games, scoring 13 goals and conceding none, but Nandy is fully aware that anything less than three points against Rainbow AC, who are winless in their last five outings, will invalidate all their previous hard work.

“We are highly focused, we are concentrating on the match and we will treat it like a match as if we have not been having the run that we are on. We appreciate the run, we are thankful about it. We are getting results, but we have to be careful,”

“Rainbow will be up for playing an open game and will approach the fixture in a carefree fashion. We must be aggressive in order to beat them. We will need to be better than them from a technical aspect and also remain patient for our scoring opportunities,” he added.

Going into the match, Mohammedan SC will be without the services of Ivorian striker Desmos Arthur Kouassi, who is suspended for the match. While his absence may be a concern to supporters, Nandy has no such fears and insists no one in his squad is irreplaceable.

“Obviously this will be a blow for us given the goal threat that Arthur has been here. But we have players who can replace him and we will manage that,” said Nandy.

Stephanson Pale’s hat-trick spurs Mohammedan to 6-0 win over TRAU

KALYANI: Mohammedan Sporting Club thrash TRAU FC 6-0 on Wednesday to keep their Hero 2nd Division League final round hopes alive.

The big win at Kalyani Stadium was powered by Stephanson Pale’s (43′, 71′, 90+1′) hat-trick. The winger was well supported by skipper Philip Adjah (45+5′ & 66′) who scored a brace along with Mohammad Amirul’s (86′) lone strike.

As a result of this win Mohammedan SC have moved to second spot in Group C standings on the basis of goal difference in head-to-head with 13 points from their 8 matches.

Mohammedan SC dominated proceedings from the very beginning and kept the ball in the rival half itself during the opening quarter, however, struggled to break down a well-organised TRAU defence.

On the other hand, TRAU who were pressed back for the majority of the half, did well to absorb the pressure and looked dangerous on the few times they attacked. Goalkeeper Priyant Singh had to make a number of fine saves to keep Mohammedan SC in the contest.

Nonetheless, Mohammedan SC almost took the lead when Satyam Sharma pumped up a ball from the midfield in the 28th minute. The perfect pass found Adjah on the run just outside the box, but the Ghanaian’s effort narrowly missed the target.

However, Mohammedan SC continued to push forward and were rewarded with the opening goal in the 43rd minute when Pale head past TRAU goalkeeper Mithun Samonto from Satyam Sharma’s free-kick to give his side the well-deserved lead.

The rampant Black Panthers added their second goal five minutes into first-half stoppage time when Adjah converted a penalty after TRAU’s Prem Singh committed handball inside the box.

Mohammedan SC started the second-half like a house on fire, and it was evident from the very beginning that Black Panthers were going to collect full points as TRAU players were outclassed in all departments.

Mohammedan SC duly added the third through Adjah in the 66th minute. TRAU defense gave the ball away carelessly and Adjah burst through into the area on the left hand side and deposited the ball past the helpless Mithun for a 3-0 lead.

It was 4-0 five minutes later when Pale grabbed his second of the day after slotting home a left wing cross from Satyam.

The scoring spree did not end there as substitute Amirul increased the lead further after striking home in the 86th minute. The pass came in from Arthur Kouassi for Amirul who produced a good strike from the edge of the area to find the left hand side of goal.

Meanwhile, TRAU had a couple of good opportunities to reduce the margin but the visitors were unlucky and Mohammedan SC well at the back.

Mohammedan SC didn’t take their foot off the accelerator and continued to dominate proceedings but had to wait till injury time to get their sixth when Pale scored from close range to complete his hattrick.

The Black Panthers will now prepare for Rainbow AC in their last home game on Sunday at Kalyani.

Black Panthers Upbeat Ahead Of TRAU Six-Pointer

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club skipper Philip Adjah believes their midweek Hero 2nd Division League Preliminary Round Group C clash with TRAU FC is worth six points.

Although, Mohammedan SC currently lying on 4th position in Group C table with 10 points from 7 points but a victory over TRAU, who are on 13 points from 7 matches as well, could send them to second behind Chhinga Veng FC and establish as firm contenders for a final round berth, however, anything less than a win and it could be over.

“Both teams are desperate for the three points. A draw won’t be enough and that makes this game a six pointer. For us we will go out there and just play our normal attacking game,” Adjah said.

“We know that we won’t have it all our way because there is so much at stake for both teams, it’s a must-win six-pointer for us. If they sit back and wait for a counter attack we have to make sure we are tight at the back as well while we attack them. Such games between such two teams are not easy ones but we want three points at any cost,” the Ghanaian striker explained.

During their past two matches, the Black Panthers were convincing winners and managed to score a combined total of seven goals in two matches without conceding any. Adjah himself scored thrice in those two matches and believe that they can beat TRAU for the first time in Hero 2nd Division League, based on their performances against ATK Reserves and Chhinga Veng.

“We are in a good momentum, getting the results, playing well. Both the teams want to play and win. I remember we lost to them on away, we were leading and then allowed them to come back into the match. So now we just want to win and kill it off here in Kalyani,” he added.

Nonetheless, defender Kamran Farooque who played a crucial role in victories over ATK Reserves and Chhinga Veng is not avalaible for selection against TRAU as he got a straight red Chhinga Veng.

Though Adjah has stated that the absence of Kamran will be a major loss for the side, but ensures that rest of team will soldier on and do the business against TRAU.

The match at Kalyani Stadium will kick-off at 3:00 PM on Wednesday.

Mohammedan SC send log-leaders Chhinga Veng packing with a 3-0 clubbing

KALYANI: Mohammedan Sporting Club eased past Chhinga Veng FC 3-0 to keep their final round hopes alive in the ongoing 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League.

Desmos Arthur Kouassi (38′) and skipper Philip Adjah (43′ & 70′) were on target for the Black Panthers to hand Chhinga Veng their first defeat in Preliminary Round on Saturday at Kalynai Stadium.

The opening 10 minutes was a rather scrappy affair, with both teams unable to hold onto the ball long enough to create any decent scoring opportunities.

The first effort on goal only came in the 15th minute, when Kouassi met a left-sided cross from Safiul Rahman, but he headed his effort wide of the Chhinga Veng goal.

Four minutes later Adjah came bitterly close to opening the lead but his close range effort was superbly saved by Chhinga Veng custodian Zothanmawia.

Adjah then continued to terrorize the Chhinga Veng defense, setting up another two chances for Kouassi, but the Ivorian forward squandered both.

Mohammedan SC, thereafter, continued to press on, and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 38th minute though Kouassi who scored from Stephanson Pale’s pass.

From the goal onwards, Mohammedan SC dominated the proceedings and duly doubled their lead in the 43rd minute after Adjah scored from close range.

Meanwhile, Chhinga Veng looked well out of their depth throughout the first-half and went into the break trailing 2-0, with a mountain to climb in the second stanza.

Chhinga Veng started the second-half stronger, in the opening 10 minutes Chhinga Veng continued to impose themselves on the game without reward as Priyant Singh, between the sticks, held out to good efforts.

The Black Panthers also got a few times close to getting the third goal and looked dangerous on the set-pieces, but the ball didn’t find the back of the net.

Chhinga Veng, however, really struggled to find their footing in the game as Mohammedan SC looked comfortable to sit back and hold onto the ball.

Despite the momentum turning in Chhinga Veng’s favour, Mohammedan SC fought back to add a third when Adjah slotted home from close range after rounding Zothanmawia in the 70th minute to put the result beyond questions.

Towards the end, Mohammedan SC’s Kamran Farooque and Chhinga Veng’s Vanlalzuidika were given marching order.

The result saw Mohammedan SC leapfrogged Rainbow AC for the third spot in Group C standings with 10 points from 7 matches and will host TRAU FC next on March 13, 2019 at Kalyani Stadium.

Raghu Nandy Stays Confident Ahead Of Chhinga Veng Tie

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club Technical Director Raghunath Nandy have expressed confidence that his side can beat Chhinga Veng FC tomorrow at home to keep their final round hopes alive in the 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League. The Preliminary Round Group C tie at Kalyani Stadium kick-off at 3 pm on Saturday.

Mohammedan SC are fourth on Group C log with 7 points, while Chhinga Veng leading the standings with 16 points, both after 6 games. The Black Panthers needs to win at any cost as anything less than three points could potentially end their final round aspirations.

This clash promises to be an entertaining affair as both sides play an attacking brand of football and will be full of confidence after posting impressive results in their respective last matches. Mohammedan SC come into the match on the back of a 4-0 win over ATK Reserves on Monday, while Chhinga Veng have defeated a strong Rainbow Athletic Club 3-1.

“I am impressed with the commitment of my boys as we are gradually finding our shape. Yes, we did not start too well as we would have wished but we are steadily getting into our groove,” said Nandy.

Although, Mohammedan SC have been beaten 0-3 by Chhinga Veng in the corresponding fixture in January, Nandy has expressed confidence in his team’s ability.

“For us it’s one game at a time. It doesn’t matter who we are up against, we back ourselves against anyone. We want to stay true to ourselves by playing our best football. We pace ourselves and we know what we are capable of doing,” he added.

Nonetheless, Mohammedan SC’s defensive frailties, struggling to deal with fast attackers, has dented their final round ambitions. If it wasn’t for their attack, they wouldn’t be considered in the race such is the state of their defence where they struggle to keep clean sheets. In the final stretch matches will be decided by small margins, like being tight at the back in close encounters.

The Black Panthers will also need skipper Philip Adjah to return to his best form. There is no doubt that Adjah is one of the most talented strikers in 2nd Division League currently. When he racked up 21 goals and assisted 6 prior to the league, similar things were expected from him. However, the alarming rate of inconsistency in his performances has been a worrying factor. Maybe the weight of expectations has proved to be too much for him to handle.

Many times, Adjah looks like he has been caught in two minds in front of the goal. His lack of composure while finishing opportunities has proven to be very costly for Mohammedan SC, and with just 4 games remaining in the Preliminary Round, Adjah needs to change gears before it’s too late.

Black Panthers Put Four Past ATK Reserves

HOWRAH: Mohammedan Sporting Club kept their final round hopes alive in 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League with a 4-0 drubbing of ATK Reserves in an Preliminary Round Group C game at the Sailen Manna Stadium in Howrah on Monday.

Goals from Stephanson Pale (43′), Prosenjit Chakraborty (45+2′), Philip Adjah (58′) and a fairy tale strike from Desmos Arthur Kouassi (77′) helped Black Panthers to log their biggest win of the season.

Mohammedan SC hugely deserved all the three points as they dominated ATK with their expensive attacking football where they dominated in every respect where they played the dominant football that their Technical Director Raghunath Nandy preaches.

Mohammedan SC dominated proceedings from the very beginning and kept the ball in the rival half itself during the opening quarter. However, with the ATK defense staying deep, Mohammedan SC were finding it tough to penetrate.

On the other hand, ATK who were pressed back for the majority of the half, did well to absorb the pressure and looked dangerous on the few times they attacked. Goalkeeper Priyant Singh had to make a number of fine saves to keep Mohammedan SC in the contest.

Nonetheless, Mohammedan SC almost took the lead when Satyam Sharma pumped up a ball from the midfield in the 28th minute. The perfect pass found Kouassi on the run just outside the box, but the Ivorian struck the post.

However, Mohammedan SC kept pressing and were rewarded with the opening goal in the 43rd minute when Pale slotted past ATK goalkeeper Jedidi Haokip from close to give his side the well-deserved lead.

Then Prosenjit Chakraborty doubled the lead two minutes into first-half stoppage time when he slotted Adjah’s rebound after the Nigerian hit the cross-bar.

Mohammedan SC started the second-half like a house on fire, and it was evident from the very beginning that Black Panthers were going to collect full points as ATK players were outclassed in all departments and Mohammedan SC duly added the third through Adjah in the 58th minute. ATK defense gave the ball away carelessly and Adjah burst through into the area on the left hand side and deposited the ball past the helpless Jedidi for a 3-0 lead.

ATK, on the other hand, looked well out of their depth and rarely threatened in the second-half and when they did, the rock solid defensive pairing of Prosenjit Pal and Balwinder Singh regularly snuffed out the danger. Priyant also covered his area well to keep some dangerous strikes at bay.

Thereafter, Mohammedan SC continued to dominate proceedings creating multiple chances for Adjah and Kouassi up front.

Adjah should have secured his brace when a perfect cross was supplied to him across the face of goal by Pale, but the striker failed to tap it in from close range in the 73rd minute.

Four minutes later Kouassi put the final nail in the coffin slotting in from Adjah’s square ball to add further gloss to a terrific display.

Thanks to this big win Mohammedan SC have leapfrogged ATK Reserves for the fourth spot in Group C standings with 7 points from six matches. Mohammedan SC will host Chhinga Veng FC next on March 9, 2019 at Kalyani Stadium.

Day Of Reckoning Beckons For Black Panthers

KOLKATA: Mohammedan Sporting Club Technical Director Raghunath Nandy is confident that his troops will get the job done against ATK Reserves in their must-win 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League Preliminary Round Group C fixture at the Howrah Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

The Black Panthers who are on 5th place in Group C with 4 points from 5 matches need to beat ATK Reserves to keep their final round hopes alive.

“This is a do-or-die kind of situation which the players have been made aware and they fully understand the situation we are in right now,” Nandy said.

Mohammedan SC head into the game having lost 1-2 against TRAU FC on the road last week, while ATK Reserves were beaten by Chhinga Veng FC 3-1  in their most recent fixture.

Despite the loss, the Black Panthers performed valiantly against TRAU FC showing their strength in defense and midfield. Having witnessed plenty of positives from his side’s performance, among some areas that require some finessing, Nandy believes his side can get a result against ATK Reserves.

“It is not like we have not been doing well. The matches we lost, we lost through our mistakes which we have been rectifying. We have been scoring goals, it’s just that sometimes defence was letting us down. We need to rectify our past mistakes and close some loopholes which have been costing us dearly. We will start the match with a belief that we can win the game.”

“ATK Reserves are a good team and they are playing very good football right now. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, but with us where we are right now, it doesn’t matter to be honest what the opponent does, who does what. We just want to get points to stay .”

“We had our Team talk at training this morning and players are more determined than ever. We need to win against ATK Reserves and we are fully focused on doing just that. I hope the enthusiasm that players showing at training will translate to a great performance and great attitude in the match,” he added.

The match at Howrah Stadium will kick-off at 2 pm on Monday.

Mohammedan SC Go Down Fighting Against TRAU

IMPHAL: Mohammedan Sporting Club took another knock, after going down 2-1 to TRAU FC at the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium in Imphal on Thursday afternoon in an 2018/19 Hero 2nd Division League Preliminary Round Group C game.

Former Mohammedan SC striker Princewill Emeka (25′) and Joseph Olaleye (56′) scored on either side of the pitch to make Philip Adjah’s (12′) opener count little.

TRAU started the match like a house on fire as they took the game to Mohammedan SC. The hosts created the first threat in the 7th minute when Princewill delivered a free-kick into the box, but Joseph was unable to hit the target with his header.

That proved to be a costly miss as Mohammedan SC took the lead five minutes later through Adjah, who collected a pass from Prosenjit Chakraborty before calmly slotting past Mithun Samonto.

TRAU then came close to levelling matters in the 18th minute when Balwinder Singh lost possession inside the box, but Princewill’s shot went wide of the target.

Princewill, however, redeemed himself by scoring the equalizer in the 25th minute. The Nigerian latched onto a loose ball in the box following a neat interchange of passing with Naocha Singh, to slot his shot into the top left hand corner.

From the goal onwards, TRAU dominated the proceedings and could have taken the lead in the 34th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Prosenjit Pal brought down Kivi Zhimoni inside the box. However, goalkeeper Priyant Singh produced superb save to keep out Princewill’s effort from the spot.

Meanwhile, Mohammedan SC also gave a good account of themselves in the later stages of the half but TRAU made sure they kept things tight and compact as the both teams went into the break locked at 1-1.

TRAU came out with intent in the second-half and carved out three chances in the opening few minutes. However, Priyant covered his area well to keep some stunning strikes by Princewill and Kivi at bay.

Nonetheless despite his best efforts Priyant could not hold TRAU off forever and as the clock headed into the 56th minute mark Jospeh scored from Kivi’s pass give his side the lead.

However, rather than let their heads drop, the goal spurred Mohammedan SC on and they began attacking with intensity.

Mohammedan SC missed a myriad of late chances after coming alive in the final minutes but a series of horrid misses and some sparkling saves from Mithun kept them at bay.

Mohammedan SC who have 4 points from 5 matches will face ATK Reserves next on March 4, 2019 at Howrah Stadium.