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Football

'Mohammedan Sporting bring a big advantage to ISL,' says Dipendu Biswas

Mohammedan Sporting's journey to their maiden I-League title and ISL promotion, marked by merit and determination, heralded a promising chapter in Indian football.

Mohammedan Sporting bring a big advantage to ISL, says Dipendu Biswas
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Former footballer Dipendu Biswas is the secretary of Mohammedan Sporting. 

By

Aswathy Santhosh

Published: 8 April 2024 12:11 PM GMT

Mohammedan Sporting clinched their maiden I-League title, marking a monumental achievement in their storied history. Needing only a draw against Shillong Lajong FC, the Kolkata-based team instead secured all three points, sealing the coveted championship and earning a promotion to the prestigious Indian Super League (ISL) in a remarkable fashion.

What sets Mohammedan Sporting apart is their journey to the top, achieved solely through merit. Despite their strong financial backing, the club rose from I-League 2 to the ISL without paying any fees, a rare feat in modern Indian football.

Former India international Dipendu Biswas, pivotal in the club's resurgence since assuming the role of football secretary in 2018, told The Bridge, "We wanted to play and earn promotion. We built a strong team and achieved our goal."

Acknowledging the crucial role of financial backing, Biswas highlighted the support from investors.

"Bunkerhill has proven to be excellent in their support. We stayed in five-star accommodations and had access to training facilities on par with those used by Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Ensuring compliance with ISL rules and regulations will pose no difficulty for us," he stated.

Biswas also emphasised the advantage Mohammedan brings to the ISL, including a massive fanbase that ensures packed stadiums wherever they play.

"We bring a big advantage to the ISL, which helps the league. With our large fanbase, we draw crowds wherever we go. Since winning the league, we've been flooded with calls from fans across India. This will help Indian football, just like Kerala, Mohun Bagan, and East Bengal do," he said.

The journey to glory was marked by determination and skill, with Mohammedan Sporting dominating the season with 52 points from 23 matches, maintaining a significant lead over competitors like Sreenidi Deccan FC.

Head coach Andrey Chernyshov's contribution was pivotal. "Our head coach and most players are on two-year contracts. The coach's contract includes an automatic renewal clause if we get promoted," Biswas added.

A right step towards the revival of Bengal football

While Bengal football witnessed a slight decline in recent years, Biswas saw Mohammedan's promotion as a catalyst for its revival.

"Having three clubs from Kolkata will certainly enhance football in West Bengal. Our goal is to encourage more local Bengal players and bring back those who are playing for other teams. Strengthening our youth system is also a priority, although we already have teams in all age groups," he asserted.

Addressing logistical concerns of sharing stadiums, Biswas advocated for scheduling accommodations to accommodate all three teams at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium. "We can draw 60,000 fans on our own. Supporters are crucial for football. So, FSDL should schedule matches accordingly. If they can leave a gap of 4 or 5 days between home games, all three teams can use the Salt Lake Stadium," he stated.

Biswas reiterated the importance of fan support and urged authorities to consider their preferences in scheduling to ensure a vibrant football atmosphere in Kolkata.

"Salt Lake Stadium is easily accessible to people. The metro is nearby, so even those coming from afar can use it. We had witnessed presence of over 60k fans at the Durand Cup final in Salt Lake. I hope FSDL takes note and adjusts accordingly," he signed off.

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