Kaushik Chatterjee : It was a Sunday – and of course a match day. Like any other match day, I was back at home, alone with my laptop before me and TV switched on to a Bengali news channel… all set to give my live update for the Mohun Bagan fan site.
For the first 8 minutes, I was a bit scared, with Shilton Paul’s shaky keeping under the cross piece. And the damage was done! A Renedy Singh corner found Nirmal Chettri who headed it and Shilton Paul invariably missed the flight. Bagan was down. It was just 8th minute into the game and Bagan was down 0-1.
I could hear my heart pounding for this was a game we were surely ahead – and moreover Chidi missed some easy sitters in the previous game! How can we get a point in absence of Deepak and Manju! Deepak was out due to suspension and Manju had a fractured leg! Only good news so far was that Bhaichung was off too.
However, things started changing slowly in favour of Bagan. Midfield took control of the game and East Bengal became a bit defensive , trying to compact the defensive third.
It was 17th minute when a Surkumar solo from the right flank got past three East Bengal players and his cross found Chidi who made no mistake. Chidi’s powerful shot made it 1-1.
In the 21st minute, there was another Chidi move from Snehasish pass that was half heartedly cleared by East Bengal defense – and the ball went to the fresher Manish Maithani. The Dehradun boy’s power shot from outside the box got past Abhra and kissed the net. Bagan was up 2-1.
At the 30th minute another Chidi effort was blocked by Abhra.
But then Shilton Paul’s poor show continued. Abel Hammond miskick went off Yakubu’s chest and rolled into the net over Shilton who again misjudged and it was 2-2!
Shilton conceded a third soon – as Yakubu got a ball as Surkumar and Shilton had a communication breakdown. East Bengal was up 3-2.
Just before the half time Chidi netted an equalizer from a Barreto pass. It was such a relief that we were going for a lemon break as scoreline showed 3-3.
Coach Karim Bencharifa repaired the damage in the second half – replaced hapless Shilton with experienced Sangram Mukherjee. That gave Bagan enough confidence.
In the 46th minute Snehasish movement from left found James who headed the ball down for Chidi – and he made no mistake – we were up 4-3. I was happy – we have 45 mins more to score at least one more goal … and scratch out the curse of 34 years! I still remember that day 34 years back – each goal conceded and I was hiding below my East Bengal supporter friend’s grandmothers bed! It’s time we remove the dark patch – 45 minutes more and one more goal to score!!!
But then soon Barreto was hit with an injury and had to be replaced by Ishfaq. Barreto was found crying as he left the ground. Perhaps even he felt we were at the verge of making history, and he won’t be in the ground to lead the team for the historic moment.
I was nervous – the year before we saw 4-3 and how Venkatesh missed it! We were at the verge of history be we failed to achieve it. Somewhere deep inside the atheist me, for the first time I was praying to the football god- please God – let there be one more goal – just one more! An year when I had a major personal loss – let this goal heal my sorrow – just one more!
And then came the 65th minute of the game. Bagan earned a corner. Marcos took the corner from left- the show goes to the near post- finds Chidi and the ball kisses the net. We made it! Tears started coming off my eyes. I was shouting in joy in the empty apartment ! I wanted to share my joy with people.
Man with 4 goals – Chidi Edeh
I called up Rajat da who was in the gallery – could hear the shouting , rather roaring of the Bagan supporters … spoke to Rajat’da who, just the day before the game told me ” kaal panch ta dichchi …” we made it !
I spoke to Gopal, Subhasis, Tridip and many more- whom I would not have even known in this world had Mohun Bagan been not there!
Yakubu play acting was not impressive for referee Benjamin who ignored a demand for penalty by East Bengal players.
85 minutes in the game- East Bengal gallery was vacant – almost all left , their 34 years of pride shattered, scared, that a 6th would be on the list. James failed, as so did Chidi – a 6th was never scored by Bagan that day.
Had James or Chidi not missed the 6th, we would have broken the 5 goal record! Some other day … by some other person may be!
Until then, 25th October 2009, Sunday will remain in the hearts of Mohun Bagan supporters as a golden day! A day when we touched history. A day that needs to be superseded by scoring at least 6 against the arch-rivals!
– By Kaushik Chatterjee (A proud mariner)