Today was the first day of practice for Mohun Bagan, it was held in 2 sessions, around 1-1/2 hours in morning from 8.30 a.m. and then in afternoon from 3.30 pm. The practice mainly consisted of fitness training, stretching and endurance training. In afternoon, there was handball practice. Due to Bangla Bandh, there will be no practice on Friday. On Saturday there will be two practice sessions. Marcos is scheduled to arrive today from Brazil.

When we had a chat with coach Karim Bencharifa, he said, "Right now, players are back in practice after about 1-2 months gap, right now their muscles are stiff, so basically we will have to do endurance training for few days. I can give you an example, I am preparing my car to travel on the road and travel smoothly (winning trophies), now I am pouring oil in the machines, test drive will start after few days."

Coach was satisfied with condition of players. New recruits Mickey Fernandez, Subho Kumar, Seikh Azim, Zenith etc. were present in practice today. After practice Azim said, "Since officials have decided not to recruit any foreign defenders, our responsibility has increased and I will try my level best to perform well. Our main target is to win all trophies."

Coach Mridul Banerjee, A licence holder from London, who has joined Mariners as assistant coach said after practice, "I have no problem with East Bengal, I joined Mohun Bagan because of better offer. It is not important whether after having A licence with me, I am working as assistant coach or not. I want to work, I want myself to be involved with football coaching. The new job which I have got this year has the name "coach" with it, that is enough for me, I don’t mind at all being assistant coach. My job this year will be to help coach Karim to function well so that Mohun Bagan can win more trophies and perform well in major tournaments. I don’t want to compare between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. For us coaches, it is part of the job to adjust to all situations. Atmosphere of every club is different, even condition in Goa is different, to survive we will have to make ourself accustomed to all these situations."

When asked whether Satyajit has congratulated him on becoming assistant coach, Mridul da said, "No, I have not had any talk with Satyajit. Actually I understand his situation, he has left with a heavy heart. This is the way all organization, not only football team, works. Someone leaves and a new person comes and fills the void. In foreign countries, there is a ritual of congratulating the new person but in our country this is not there. Wish Satyajit best of luck for all his future endeavors."

Commenting on the question that coaches having A licence does not get much chance in Kolkata, he said, "Only doing A licence will not help, how the person performs in field is very important. Whether he can deliver, what he has learnt, to the players is a very essential quality which is required. Plus officials should have confidence on the person. Last year East Bengal officials and this year Mohun Bagan officials found me suitable for this job and has selected me. I have lot of experience of coaching from lower division to higher division. I have been coach of Bengal in the past and also of Mohammedan Sporting where I did more or less okay job. Actually the main thing is not the degree, yes it is an essential requirement, but how you deliver and perform in field is most important. The performance should speak for you and not degree."

Coach Karim said, "I don’t like to compare but yes in this year’s team I have more options and so I might use rotation method to field all players." When a reporter asked in a usual taunting tone that he is famous being runners coach, coach said, "In last two years, I have won 5 trophies including 3 for Mohun Bagan in last year. Then how can you say I am a runners coach? Yes this year we will try hard to win I league also which Mohun Bagan missed marginally last year." Regarding PIO and Asian players, he said, "We are discussing on this and we will let you know in due time."

Captain Sangram said, "Five years back when I was captain of East Bengal, we had won I league. This year also I hope that under my captainship Mohun Bagan wins I league. The last two Federation Cup which Mohun Bagan has won, it gives be satisfaction that I have little contribution in those victories."

PICTURE COURTESY: SANGBAD PRATIDIN

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