Kolkata Derby Special : High Time Bagan's Vital Cog Yusa-Norde Light Up The Derby
A bag full of tricks, running past defenders, scoring goals and creating more for his teammates, things weren’t too different for Haitian winger Sony Norde while at Shiekh Jamal Dhanmondi. Norde’s brilliance helped the side to the 2014 Bangladesh Premier League title. Ironic as it may sound, a great performance for a Bangladeshi club earned him a contract with Mohun Bagan, a team that represents the main Bengal contrary to their arch rivals East Bengal which is a team hailing from and supported by pre-independence Bangladesh.
A big money move, a bigger hope to help Bagan to their maiden I-League title and Norde didn’t disappoint as he guided the Mariners to the coveted title. 13 assists in the league meant Norde was topping the charts and a big reason in the triumph.
His fellow creative midfielder and Japanese powerhouse Katsumi Yusa had joined in a year earlier from ONGC and brought in an instant spark to the side. He along with Norde and a few others were the main men behind Bagan’s title triumph and has been making noteworthy contributions ever since.
With Norde and Yusa in the side, Mariners are set to trouble any side’s full backs and with capability to even play through the centre, the duo is terrifying for any defence. And when you have quality strikers in front, ready to pounce on any opportunity coming their way; Bagan becomes a lethal unit and one that sends fears down the spine of any opponent.
The special thing about Yusa and Norde is their ability to change pace and not just play defence splitting balls but also cross the ball to add further dimension to the team. With Norde and Yusa, a coach can setup his team in multiple fashions and the duo would seamlessly settle in without affecting their huge impact on the game.
With the late arrival of Norde, the onus of most of the midfield magic was on Yusa’s shoulders and the Japanese didn’t disappoint with the midfielder not just creating chances for his fellow players but also had a few good shots at the goal himself. It was only in the game against Minerva Punjab FC that both got onto the field together for the first time and the result was a drubbing for Minerva, who were made to look hapless. Norde from the left, Yusa from the right and Jeje, Daryl Duffy operating through the centre; it was all doom for the newcomers as the quartet sent the defence to ruptures and scored 4 past them.
While Norde was the brighter of the two against Minerva, Yusa returned the favour in the game against Aizawl FC where he won a penalty for his side in the last few minutes to help them pull off a win from the hands of a draw.
The greatest thing about the duo is the fact that they keep pushing each other to do better. They just don’t raise the level of each other game after game but also of the players around them. Jeje and Duffy have looked lethal for Norde and Yusa have done some fantastic work on the flanks, drawing out defenders and putting them in the wrong position time and again.
The duo of Yusa and Norde have been a part of 3 I-League derbies, 1 of which have been a draw while either side have won a game each. One game where Norde couldn’t feature because of an injury too ended in a draw. While Norde is yet to score a goal in the Derby, albeit he got an assist last season, Yusa has scored just one goal in the derby, coming in a losing cause with the Mariners going down 2-1. 2 of the other derbies Yusa have been a part of have ended in a draw and a 1-0 narrow loss for Bagan.
Though both are genuinely quality players, capable of turning the game on its head but have been a shadow of themselves in the showdown, failing to make a mark in the derbies. A lot of criticism has come Sony Norde’s way for bundling under pressure in the derbies, Yusa has fared somewhat better, contributing a lot more to the Bagan side who have been found out lately in the derbies.
But on the positive note, Norde’s performance last season was better than the one prior to that where Norde was fantastic on the counter and delivered a delicious ball into the box for Cornell Glenn to restore parity for his side.
All said, this is a new season, new game. History doesn’t matter in the derby but experience does and that is where the Bagan duo of Yusa and Norde stand taller than that of Wedson and Plaza, who despite being delightful in their early spell of the league, do not have the ‘derby experience’ and might struggle to cope up with the same.
Come Sunday, the duo would be put to stern test and for Bagan to take home the advantage not just in the game but looking at the larger picture, in the title race, they would need to come to life and light up the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri.