“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that”. I have often pondered about these immortal words of the great Bill Shankly for quite some time. What could be more important than life and death ? What could it possibly mean? Football is definitely more than just a game, I understood that when I was barely 9 years old, seeing the Great Oliver Kahn breaking down in tears after the World Cup final. It is definitely more than a game. But what could be more serious than life and death ?
On the cloudy monsoon evening of the 2nd of September, one of the players will get the chance to become a hero. The nature of the Kolkata derby is unpredictable, often leading to cagy games and nerve wreaking movements that could define the game. In this season’s CFL, like many others over the years, it is the derby that would settle the league. East Bengal have won the CFL 7 times in a row, Mohun Bagan would be looking to stop the East Bengal juggernaut. Mohun Bagan Coach Shankarlal Chakrobarty, would have his work cut out against East Bengal who would be boasting of the likes of worldcupper Johnny Acosta and a brilliant midfield of Al Amna, Brandon, Kamalpreet etc.
Shankarlal like in most of the other CFL matches would be looking to lineup in his unconventional formation that would give the likes of Arijit Bagui and Abhisek Ambekar the freedom of using the wings. With Henry often dropping in midfield to increase the numbers in the middle. It would all depend on who controls the midfield.
Shankarlal would probably start with Mehtab who have the experience to keep in check the likes of Al Amna.
● Mohun Bagan Starting XI:
Shilton Paul(GK), Arijit Bagui, Eze Kingsley , KimKima, Abhisek Ambekar, Pintu Mahata, Mehtab Hossain, Shilton D’Silva, Britto, Henry Kisekka, Dipanda Dicka
Shankarlal emphasizing on wing play would often make it a 3-5-2 or even sometimes a 3-5-1-1, with either of the midfielders dropping deep to support the defence, hence giving the likes of Abhisek Ambekar and Arijit Bagui to fully utilize the width of the pitch. Henry also drops deep often to increase the numbers in the middle and hold up the ball for other players to arrive in attack, his partnership with the prolific Dipanda Dicka could be the key to unlock a East Bengal defence that looked nervous at times this season.
East Bengal haven’t been able to beat Mohun Bagan since Shankarlal have taken over. Shankarlal along with millions of other Mohun Bagan fans all around the globe would be praying that he would still remain undefeated come Sunday evening.