Mohammedan lose on the night, but the I-League title party doesn’t stop

Mohammedan SC Players lifting I-League Trophy and their fans in Gallery
Mohammedan SC Players lifting I-League Trophy and their fans in Gallery (PC: Rahul Giri)

The stage was set at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata for Mohammedan Sporting Club on April 13, 2024, as they took on Delhi FC in their last game of the I-League 2023-24. Before this game, the Kolkata giants had already been declared champions, and it was a grand opportunity for them to celebrate the league triumph in front of over 40,000 supporters.

But Mohammedan suffered a shock 3-1 defeat against Yan Law’s side and finished the season with 52 points from 24 games (15 wins, 7 draws, 2 losses). The result was unexpected for their many fans, but there was no shortage of support and motivation throughout the game. Before the kickoff, several trucks and buses full of Mohammedan SC supporters were seen heading towards the stadium.

It was their maiden I-League title and those fans were all set to celebrate that. There was a sea of black-and-white jerseys, and they arrived singing their club slogans and songs. Before the match, fans were asked about their feelings on seeing Andre Chernyshov and his men winning the I-League and being promoted to the Indian Super League (ISL). “Our team have worked really hard and we are really pleased and happy,” said one. “This win is not only for Mohammedan, it is a win for football in Bengal.”

Many fans cleared their throats for the ‘Jaan Jaan Mohammedan, Dil Dil Mohammedan’ chant as well. The enthusiasm and excitement levels were high because of how long they had waited for this victory. The Black Panthers were relegated from the I-League at the end of the 2013-14 season. A decade down the line, they are again set to rub shoulders with other two Kolkata giants, East Bengal FC and Mohun Bagan Super Giant, in the upcoming ISL season.

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When asked about that opportunity, fans sounded very hopeful and claimed that they were ready to rule the ISL after conquering the I-League. “Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are already playing there for so many years, but we were not there,” said one fan. “It was a hard time for us, but now, we have arrived. Now, we will conquer the ISL and rule Indian football!”

During the match, fans were very loud, and there were some encouraging tifos for their team in the gallery. But once they trailed 0-3 against Delhi, it was almost pin-drop silence. The only Mohammedan goal, from Kasimov, came in the dying minutes and that brought some joy, but it was after the final whistle that the real celebrations kicked off.

A huge number of fans stayed on and saw their team lifting the I-League trophy. Then, outside the stadium’s gate, Mohammedan’s club song started as fans started to dance. Several firecrackers were burst and DJ Bravo’s ‘Champion’ song was played on loop for the supporters. After the match, Mohammedan SC’s Eddie Hernandez said: “Very happy to win the I-League. I am pleased to play in front of these supporters. This victory is for them and thank you to all the crowd.”

It was quite evident that all the players were also happy to see such a large number of fans cheering and supporting them. They will be hopeful of as much backing in the ISL next season when Chernyshov has them ready to take on the big boys.  

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