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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Mohun Bagan win I-League title with four games to spare

Baba Diawara has been the star for Mohun Bagan and he slotted in the only goal in the game against Aizawl FC as the Mariners won the I-League title with four games to spare.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: March 10, 2020 11:03:31 pm
Mohun Bagan players celebrating their title win. (Source: I-League)

At the end, Mohun Bagan players lifted coach Kibu Vicuna on their shoulders. Fans at the Kalyani Stadium and far beyond rejoiced, as one of the country’s most famous football clubs annexed the I-League title in early March, with four games to spare. On Tuesday, they beat Aizawl FC by a solitary goal.

Baba Diawara scored on 80 minutes from a Joseba Beitia assist. Befittingly, the dazzling duo of Bagan, and the I-League, combined to put the cherry on the cake. That Bagan would win the I-League this term had become a formality almost about a month ago. Such has been their dominance in the league.

Today’s win took them to an unassailable 39 points from 16 matches, 16 more than their nearest rivals East Bengal and Minerva Punjab. Bagan’s next match is against East Bengal on March 15 and if the global custom is followed, the champions would receive a guard of honour.

This is Bagan’s second I-League title after 2014-15, and they achieved the success by embracing an attacking philosophy. A tally of 35 goals from 16 matches attests their attacking potency. All along, they have wowed their fans with their style of football. Their 23-pass goal against Churchill Brothers has had been the most beautifully-constructed goal in Indian club football this term yet. Little wonder then that the players lifted their coach, Vicuna, after the title triumph today. The unassuming and affable 48-year-old Spaniard has harnessed the power of passing football to great effect.

But Diawara has been to be the team’s x-factor. Back in December last year, Bagan signed the 31-year-old Senegalese in place of Salva Chamorro. The centre-forward, with 71 appearances in La Liga for Sevilla, Levante and Getafe between 2012 and 2015, changed Bagan with his command in the final-third. Today’s goal took his tally to 10 – a lovely right-footer from the edge of the area that was too good for the Aizawl FC goalkeeper. Impact-wise, Diawara has offered a throwback to Igor Shkvyrin, a former Uzbek striker, who played for Bagan during their National League title-winning campaign in 1999-2000.

Spare a thought for Beitia, the conductor of the orchestra from the midfield, a creative force who has set up so many opportunities for the Bagan forwards. Today’s goal also was a result of his incisive run and a fine lay-off. Following the merger with ATK, Bagan will play the Indian Super League from the next season onwards. Their I-League farewell party saw them secure a direct entry to the AFC Cup.

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