The 2019-20 season has been phenomenal for Mohun Bagan faithful. They won their second I-League title with four matches to spare and also ensured their participation in the top tier of Indian football, i.e. the Indian Super League (ISL), by joining hands with ATK.
Both the tasks had its fair share of challenges. As far as the sporting project is concerned, the officials chose to put their trust in a new manager in KIbu Vicuna and a host of players were signed. The start of the campaign was not great but the way the team was playing showed promise. In the Durand Cup and the Calcutta Football League (CFL), they finished as runners-up and got ousted in the semi-finals of the Sheikh Kamal Cup in Bangladesh. They even had a bumpy start to their I-League campaign with a draw and a 4-2 humiliation to Churchill Brothers at home. Yet, the management backed Vicuna and the Spaniard proved his worth at the end of the season.
But, the Coronavirus pandemic played spoilsport and prevented the Mariners from lifting the trophy or celebrating the title with the million fans just as they did after bagging their maiden I-League championship in 2014-15.
"Mohun Bagan winning I-League and we are not being able to celebrate with the fans with the trophy is the biggest regret. It is a huge disappointment. Some things you propose and God disposes. But we are hopeful that someday we will get the trophy and celebrate but it is too early to say," stated Srinjoy Bose, general secretary of Mohun Bagan, to Goal on the eve of Mohun Bagan day.
Due to the pandemic, even the Mohun Bagan day celebrations will be held online, a first for the century-old club.
"We have been adjusting to a new reality. For the past four months, we have been doing a lot of things in a way that we haven't done before. Now we are living in a virtual world. If meetings and classes can happen online then why not celebrations," said Bose, who believes that given the current circumstances the safety of the fans is of paramount importance."
Mohun Bagan is set to participate in the ISL and the official hopes that the synergy between the I-League and ISL champions will usher in an era of success.
"It is good that we will be playing the ISL (even in these difficult circumstances) for the first time as well as in the AFC Cup. These are testing times for us and for everyone. ISL is a different ball game for our supporters and the members. So hopefully, the blending of the two champions will yield a positive result. But it is really disappointing that fans will not be present in our first season in ISL. Again, this is the new normal. You have to accept it. All over the world fans are being prohibited."
Bose also shared that even though it was difficult to make a breakthrough into ISL, the management was firm to keep their promise that they made to the club members and fans.
"The more difficult the task, the sweeter is the success. Winning the I-League with four matches to spare and in the royal manner that we won is hugely satisfying. It is the same thing with how we made our way into ISL. It was a difficult task but we did it after getting a new partner. There were sacrifices made as it was a corporate affair. You see that our rivals (East Bengal) are yet to come up (in ISL) and therefore it was a challenge. Our President (Tutu Bose) had said that Mohun Bagan will always play in the top league of the country (although last season they played in the I-League). ISL is the top league and we are in it.
"So, to keep up with promise and the expectations was a huge task but we have done it successfully. It was a huge responsibility as it involved the emotions of millions of fans," concluded the board member of ATK Mohun Bagan FC,