Indian Arrows coach Luis Norton de Matos thanked the Mohun Bagan supporters for giving them a standing ovation after a 1-1 stalemate in their I-League football fixture. Playing at their home ground for the first time in I-League, Mohun Bagan squandered chances galore and played with a numerical advantage in the last 25 minutes but only to be held one-all by the spirited Indian colts.
This was a historic occasion for Kolkata Maidan as I-League made its debut but Mohun Bagan registered their third successive draws, and all of them coming in home matches. A capacity crowd staged demonstrations outside the venue and shouted slogans against their coach Sanjoy Sen, club officials and foreign players.
The crowd, however, gave a standing ovation to Indian Arrows, leaving the Portuguese coach overwhelmed. “I want to say that in my whole life as a footballer and coach, I never saw these kind of demonstration of passion of the people for the sport. “I was also very emotional when all the crowd supported our boys. Thank you very much Kolkata,” he said at the post-match news conference.
Mohun Bagan went ahead through a dubious penalty decision and the 64-year-old was critical of the decision. “I have some doubts about the penalty. But the team responded very very well.” “The game had two phases — before and after the redcard. We could have fought for a victory if we had 11 players. The game was very very similar.”
At halftime it was a 1-1 stalemate but Mohun Bagan seemed to be under pressure and they got the advantage after Indian Arrows midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam was sent off in the 65th minute. “We can win this game if we believe in ourselves, I told them at halftime. But after the redcard the game changed completely and Mohun Bagan looked for a victory. I told the boys never lose concentration. I’m happy with the boys,” Matos said.
Indian Arrows came into the match after winning against Shillong Lajong at home on December 26 and Matos pointed out the hectic scheduling of the tournament. “We played three days ago, but they (Mohun Bagan) were playing with 10 days rest,” he said referring to Mohun Bagan’s last match against Neroca FC on December 19.
The AIFF developmental outfit had another setback when Ashish Rai sustained a head injury. “I don’t know the nature of injury exactly but he has a strong concussion in head,” he said. The Indian Arrows coach further said the players had some difficulties with the pitch. “Pitch was not very good, had some difficulties in playing,” he said. The venue will further host a second I-League match when Mohun Bagan take on Chennai City here on January 2.