The sudden withdrawal of Mumbai Tigers from the I-League starting on Saturday has hit hard players like India international Mohanraj Nallapan,who is now forced to sit out of top flight football in domestic circuit.
Mohanraj said that he had signed with Mumbai Tigers for one year with the hope that the new team will be the right platform for him to showcase his talent in the I-League.
I signed with Mumbai Tigers with high hopes that since it being a new team owned by a corporate house it will have some big things in store,like the best of facilities,best players etc,” Mohanraj said after Mumbai Tigers lost 1-3 to Mohammedan Sporting in the Durand Cup semifinal today.
But who will know the club will pull out of the I-League at the last minute. The I-League schedule was announced (by the AIFF) with Mumbai Tigers in it and the club suddenly announced that it will pull out. It was unfortunate,” said the 23-year-old left back from Tamil Nadu.
Mumbai Tigers,owned by Dubai-based Dodsal Group,was one of the two corporate clubs which was given direct entry into the I-League by the AIFF with an aim to boost Indian football by the association of business houses.
The club,however,pulled out in the last minute,leaving the I-League a 13-club affair this season. Mumbai Tigers are though expected to play in the second division I-League.
Mohanraj,who had stints in Mohun Bagan and Pune FC before joining Mumbai Tigers said that he will have to be with the club for at least one year and see what happens. I am in a fix as I don’t know what to do and I am an Indian international player. If I don’t play in the I-League,I won’t be playing with the best in the country. I can’t join another I-League club now,” he said.
Cant leave club
I guess as a professional player I have to honour my commitment with the club. I am being treated well at the club and the players are gelling well and so I am happy on that count except that I will be missing top level football.
The club management is also saying that it will play in the I-League next year and they have some big plans for next year. So I have to see and play in the second division I-League,” he said.
Asked if he has any fear that he may not be selected for India now that he will not be playing in the I-League,he said,”I don’t have any other means. I know I-League is a long drawn league in which all the top players in the country and foreigners play. Second division I-League is just for a few months but I have to show my worth there. The rest I will accept because I can’t do anything and I have accepted that I will have to honour my contract with Mumbai Tigers,” he added.
There were reports that he had an ugly bust up with senior midfielder Mehtab Hossain after India lost to Nepal 1-2 in the recent SAFF Championships in Kathmandu but Mohanraj said the matter was blown out of proportion.
The media blew it out of proportion. It was not a bust up as was projected by the media. That kind of thing happens after a match,especially when a team loses. It happens and it is immediately forgotten,” he said.
Mohammedan enter finals
Mohammedan Sporting Club of Kolkata kept themselves in line for their second Durand Cup football tournament title as they beat Mumbai Tigers 3-1 to storm into the final at the Ambedkar Stadium on Monday.
Mohammedan Sporting,who are playing in the I-League beginning on Saturday,dominated the first semi-final match as they led 2-0 at half time in front of a sizeable crowd at the Ambedkar Stadium.
The Kolkata Club,which has a good fan following in the Old Delhi area,scored through Penn Orji (2nd minute),Collin Abranches (45+1) and Antony Soren (65th).
For Mumbai Tigers,who recently pulled out of the I-League at the last minute,Bikash Jairu scored the lone goal in the 82nd minute.
In the summit clash on Thursday,Mohammedan Sporting play the winner of tomorrow’s second semifinal between Indian Navy and ONGC.
Mohammedan Sporting had won their maiden Durand Cup title in 1940 here,becoming the first Indian team to win the world’s third oldest football tournament which started in 1888. They lost in the final on three occasions — in 1959 and 1980 against Mohun Bagan and in 1992 against JCT Mills.