East Bengal dished out a clinical performance to get the better of arch-rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) in a Group A clash in Durand Cup at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on Saturday. Nandhakumar Sekar scored with a left-footed pile driver on the hour-mark to end East Bengal’s horror run of eight consecutive derby defeats.
Mohun Bagan, under Juan Ferrando’s tutelage, looked off-colour after being stifled for space and possession. Ferrando began the day with Ashish Rai and Anirudh Thapa and gave a start to Albanian front-man Armando Sadiku. But he began to ring in the changes in the second half quite early. Boumous and Sadiku were replaced by Petratos and Australian world-cupper Jason Cummings.
However, Cummings had an evening to forget and missed two gilt-edged chances in the 69th and 81st minute as the Red and Golds remained resolute in defence.
For someone who is considered to be a big game player, it was a poor show by Cummings, and he could not make a telling contribution in the all-important fixture.
The 27-year-old had scored 21 goals for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League last season and also played in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar against Messi for the Socceroos. Born in Scotland, Cummings represents the Australian national team.
Cummings and Lionel Messi during FIFA World Cup. (Cummings/Insta)
But in the season’s first Kolkata Derby, Cummings didn’t produce a performance expected of him, and former East Bengal legend Mehtab Hossain did not mince words on the latter’s showing. “Cummings is not Messi and did not seem like he would sparkle with some individual brilliance. Seeing his first match, he seemed unfit, and a professional player can’t turn up like that. A lot of people think Indian football is very easy, but that is certainly not the case,” said Hossain in a chat with The Indian Express.
“If you are a World Cupper, you must prove it on the field. He should have been fit and then come to play. Whatever league you may play, just because you played in the World Cup does not mean you are a guaranteed starter and performer. Messi has kept himself at the same level for 15-16 years because he has maintained that consistency, and others need to follow suit,” he added.
Mohun Bagan general secretary Debashish Dutta spoke to The Indian Express and admitted that East Bengal were the better side on the day. When asked about Cummings performance, Dutta said that he would need time. “He needs to be more fit, and its understood that there is a fitness problem. But judging him on 30-40 mins would be slightly harsh. Let’s see how the season turns out for him,” Dutta said.
For coach Juan Ferrando, who in 2010 worked as a fitness coach under Arsene Wenger in Arsenal, it will be expected that he take a closer look at Cummings and sort out his issues for the Mariners to come up trumps in the season.
Who is Cummings?
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Cummings started his professional career with Hibernian in the 2013–14 season.
In 2017, he moved to Nottingham Forest for a fee of £2.5 million. But after struggling to find form in the following two seasons, in 2019, he was loaned to Dundee.
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In 2020, Cummings moved to Australia to join Central Coast Mariners. As a talented striker, he is regarded as a goalscorer with a powerful shot.
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