Two former Mohun Bagan players Ansumana Kromah and Naro Hari Srestha were on target against East Bengal to dampen the title aspirations of the defending champions. Although East Bengal's 2-1 loss to Peerless have definitely handed Mohun Bagan a major boost in the title race but to assume that the Mariners have already got one hand to the trophy will be far-fetched.
But as things stand Bagan have their fortunes in their own hands and they need to collect only four points from their remaining two fixtures against Calcutta Customs and Mohammedan Sporting respectively. Whereas, East Bengal must win their remain two matches and also hope that their local rivals do not collect more than three points from two games. If both teams finish on equal points then the party with a healthier goal difference will clinch the championship. The Mariners are ahead in this department as well, as shown in the table below.
But looking at the fixtures the Red and Gold fans are hoping that their arch-rivals have a good chance of slipping up. It must be noted that East Bengal dropped their first points of the league campaign against a gritty Customs side. Subhash Bhowmick's men created a host of chances but their profligacy in front of goal cost them the two points. Samuel Kane stood as a brick wall in defence and weathered the storm neutralizing the likes of Gagandeep Bali and Mahmoud Al Amna. Goalkeeper Suvam Sen also had a brilliant day at the office as he made numerous saves to snatch a point from the Kolkata giants. They have let in only six goals in seven matches which further indicates their defensive strength.
Interestingly Kane was signed by Mohun Bagan on loan from Customs just before the Super Cup. But the Ghanaian centre-back failed to impress Sankarlal Chakraborty and was sent back without playing a single game. This would definitely act as an extra motivation for Kane to put in a good shift against Aser Dipanda and Henry Kisekka. Customs' striker Eze Stanley also has a few tricks up his sleeves and he remained a whisker away from scoring against East Bengal. He dribbled past Kinshuk Debnath and Mehtab Singh and unleashed a venomous shot at goal which was negotiated brilliantly by Rakshit Dagar.
So Calcutta Customs have the potential to script another upset and Bagan must remain vigilant of the threat posed by Rajib Dey's men.
Both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are yet to play Mohammedan Sporting who so far have had a disappointing season. They are currently placed sixth in the league table with 13 points from seven matches. Raghu Nandy's men have been solid at the back but their inefficiency in front of the opposition goal sees them reeling behind teams like Peerless SC and Rainbow AC in the league table. Princewill Emeka has once again found his scoring boots which will be a welcome relief to Nandy.
Meanwhile, the striker has thrown an open challenge to Johnny Acosta after scoring a brace against West Bengal Police and their duel will be something to look forward to when East Bengal face Mohammedan on September 11. If the Black Panthers eke out a favourable result, then East Bengal's title challenge will fall flat on its face.
If both the title contenders manage to bag full three points on matchday 10 then the championship will be decided on September 18 when Mohun Bagan and East Bengal will kick-off at the same time. Mohun Bagan will take on Mohammedan at Yuvabharati Krirangan whereas East Bengal will lock horns against FCI at their home ground. If Bagan wins or draws then they will be crowned champions irrespective of the result in Maidan. But if they slip against Mohammedan and East Bengal manages to win by a big margin against FCI then the ASEAN Cup winners will romp to their ninth successive CFL title.
On careful consideration of all the possible scenarios, it must be said that Mohun Bagan look to be in pole position to thwart East Bengal's juggernaut and claim their 30th CFL title.