ISL Shield won, Subhasish looks at big picture: ‘Golden year for Bengal football’

Subhasish Bose with the ISL Shield
Subhasish Bose with the ISL Shield (PC: ISL/X)

After losing to Chennaiyin FC, Mohun Bagan’s chances of winning the ISL League Winners Shield were seriously jeopardised. That was when Subhasish Bose made a promise to the fans: “We will win the next three games and bring the Shield to Kolkata.” On Monday, in front of 61,000 fans at Salt Lake Stadium, Bagan beat Mumbai City FC 2-1 to clinch the Shield. The Bagan captain has kept his promise.

No wonder, Subhasish was happy after the game, as he spoke to reporters. “After losing to Chennaiyin, we took every match as knockouts like quarter-final, semi-final and final. So, very happy that we managed to win.”

Bagan are the defending ISL champions. But they won the League Winners Shield for the first time, making themselves eligible to play in the AFC Champions League 2. It wasn’t easy. To start with, they had never beaten Mumbai City in the ISL before. Also, the visitors came here on the heels of a nine-game unbeaten run and only needed a draw to sour Bagan’s party. The home team is showed character.

The season hasn’t been a smooth ride for the green and maroon. They had a fallow period in the winter that saw the departure of Juan Ferrando. The club hierarchy replaced him with Antonio Lopez Habas as the team’s head coach and it turned out to be a masterstroke.

“Being up and down is part of any season. But in this team, there are many leaders and I knew we would eventually do well. Very happy that we won the Durand Cup and now the Shield. Happy for Bengal football to win every trophy this year. It’s been a golden year for Bengal football,” said Subhasish.

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Manuel Cascallana, Assistant Coach of MBSG
Manuel Cascallana, Assistant Coach of MBSG (PC: ISL/X)

This has been Bengal football’s ‘quadruple’ season, with East Bengal winning the Super Cup and Mohammedan Sporting annexing the I-League, apart from Bagan winning the Durand Cup and the ISL Shield. The three Kolkata giants will feature in the ISL next term. Bengal football has regained its bragging rights.

Bagan now have the chance of winning the ISL title this season also, and two more wins will do the job. “If we can win another trophy by playing two more matches, then why will we not be motivated? We will give our 110 per cent and will try to bring the ISL title. But today, everyone should enjoy it and then get back to work,” said Subhasish, adding: “The target always was to win the Shield. And now the job is done, we will now target the trophy.”

Meanwhile, Bagan assistant coach Manuel Cascallana thanked the fans and spoke about how the team’s only plan against Mumbai City was to win. With Habas ill until very recently, Cascallana prepared the team at the business end of the tournament and after winning the Shield he said: “Yesterday it was a different playing XI. This morning, we changed (it) and had a different playing XI. Anyone can play. All are good players.”

Bagan have been thriving on teamwork and Cascallana called Habas “the driver of the bus”.

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