Kolkata: The COVID-19 pandemic cost Mohammedan heavily. With just one win away from I-League promotion, the deadly virus created havoc thus halting the Black and Whites’ progress that they have been trying for years. However, Mohammedan didn’t give up. With a new league to determine the new entrants to I-League next season, the history-rich club has found a new ray of light to their long-awaited dreams. Sportslight Media caught up with team manager Belal Ahmed Khan and spoke at length about their plans and aims for the upcoming season.
Mohammedan Sporting Club is spending big this year. How much hopeful are you about qualifying for the I-league this time?
We have met the West Bengal government and Sports Ministry officials and they have granted us permission to practice from September 1. The players need to make themselves fit before they hit the ground. The support staff and the officials are working very hard and we have high hopes of qualifying for I-League this time.
What are your expectations from the new young coach Yan Law?
We are looking forward to qualifying for I-League this time for sure as we had almost achieved our goal a few months back before things went wrong with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had defeated Bengaluru FC with in the second division I-League. Due to this global pandemic, few matches got suspended and we couldn’t qualify as we couldn’t play one more match to get through.
We have high expectations from Yan as he was born and brought up in Kolkata. He is very attached to this place and we expect him to guide our team in the best possible way based on his qualifications. Our retired coach Saheed Ramon and our football secretary Dipendu Biswas will be there for him and we will surely make it to the I-League this time. The team is highly motivated with the presence of such experienced people and they will surely practice and get all set to qualify this time.
Mohammedan Sporting have sprung in some surprises by signing some big names like Willis Plaza and Eze Kingsley. Are there any in the box left?
No we are not looking forward to adding any new players in the team as we have already signed Willis Plaza and Eze Kingsley. According to the guidelines, a team can only add two foreigners and one Asian. We are in talks with a Nepali player this time as our Asian quota. We always wanted to give a chance to young talents from our neighbouring countries and the person we are planning to include is an amazing player.
One of your most trusted products Kamran Farooq moved to Churchill Brothers. How big is the setback for the team?
We don’t look it at that way. He was an amazing player and he had been playing for the team for a long time now. He has been a great captain and a great player at the same time. He is a left-footer which is very rare nowadays and now he has signed for Churchill Brothers. He will be playing for I-League over there and we have high hopes that he will get back to this team soon. We will surely welcome him wholeheartedly when he comes back as he is a young talent who has a long way to go. He is very talented and we think that he should be allowed to explore his talents by playing in different teams.
Football Secretary Dipendu Biswas recently said that ‘Mohammaden Sporting’s target is to gain promotion to ISL in the next five years’. How big will be the challenge?
Well, this is a really big challenge but if we successfully sustain ourselves as a team in the I-League then it won’t be that big a deal for us. We have high hopes this time that we will stand strong and will sustain ourselves this year. And according to relegation if one can withstand themselves for a year in the I-League they will automatically get a chance to get qualified for ISL in a time span of two to three years. That’s the only reason why Dipendu Biswas our very own secretary has predicted to play for ISL in the next five years.