2nd Div I-League Team Profile : Southern Samity
About the team
Southern Samity is a club established way back in 1945, as the name suggests on the southern fringes of Kolkata. It is the second club after Tollygunje Agragami, to be based out of the other ‘Kolkata Maidan’ Rabindra Sarobar.
During the early part, they were involved in sports as well as other cultural activities. Though they got their affiliation from IFA in the year 1959 they were not much into football until the new millennium.
From 2007-08 onwards they came out of the shadow of their neighbours Tollugunje Agragami to establish themselves as a major force in Kolkata Football. This period also coincided with a conglomerate FrontLink International taking over the reins of the club.
With a U-16 and a U-18 team besides the first team (and plans of a U-13 team), the club seems to be investing in the right areas.
On the football pitch, they have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade, in 2008-09 they became champions CFL second division and got a promotion into the Premier Division and currently plying their trade in CFL Premier Division A alongside the Big Three of Kolkata.
Previous year’s second division's performances
Southern have reached the final round of I-League second division on three occasions but last year they did not participate in the second division I-League.
1st Round performance
Southern finished second in Group B, ahead of the once Kolkata powerhouse Mohammedan SC and as well as Hindustan FC.
They were placed second in the group with a tally of 12 points one point behind the leaders Neroca from Manipur. They won 4 of their 6 matches and scored 10 goals in total conceding 4. They lost both their matches to Neroca. They played all their home matches at Barasat Stadium.
21st Jan –Mohameddan SC0-2Southern Samity
28th Jan –Southern Samity 3-0 Hindustan.
4th Feb- Neroca1-0 Southern Samity
11th Feb- Southern Samity2-0 Mohammedan SC
18th Feb – Southern Samity0-1Neroca
25th Feb – Hindustan2-3 Southern Samity
Target in the final round
The target as any of the other team will be to be in the I-League the next season. They look equipped to do that time with the number of ex-I League players in the team as well as some shrewd recruitment of local talents especially from the Santosh Trophy winning Bengal team.
Having said that, as only one team is expected to be promoted to the I-League next season, the going will be tough but Southern can be the dark horse of the final round as they have the right mix of experience and youth. But we can also call it the Dad’s Army with all the veterans present in the team.
Players to watch out for
Odafa Okolie will always be the man to watch out for in any team he plays for, till recently he was the biggest star in Indian Football and would be more than eager to wrest back his lost crown as well as would like to prove his detractors wrong that he is a spent force.
The aging Deepak Mondal, Ogba Kalu and Sandip Nandy, as well as Ashim Biswas, will also be looked at closely with their wealth of experience and their exploits with various I-League clubs.
Provat Lakra, Manvir Singh and Basant Singh all members of the recently Santosh Trophy winning Bengal team will also be watched closely as they are real talents and can be superstars in the future if nurtured properly. Especially Provat the kid from the stable of United SC is a robust and strong defender with good anticipation and a fine sense of timing.
They will have three very strong foreigners in Richard, Ogba Kalu and Odafa. Southern looks the most star-studded team in the final round on paper at least hope they deliver on the ground.
About the coach and his influence
Southern was coached by Amit Sen in the first round and he did catch the eye with his attacking philosophy and tactical game plan. The team though mainly comprised of juniors in the first round played with aplomb and concentrated on scoring goals in most of the matches which made most of their matches watchable and pleasing to the eye. He himself AFC 'C’ license holder and for the final round, he has been superseded by Hemanta Dora the ex-MohunBagan goalkeeping coach who is an AFC ’A’ license holder, Hemanta will lend in with his man-management skills and low profile to complement the go of the stars in the team. Hemanta knows most of the players from his MohunBagan days including Odafa and is the right man along with Amit Sen to guide the team to glory and to main round of I-league.
Expectations in the final round
They are the most star-studded team in the final round and being a club from Kolkata they would obviously look to win handsomely and they would be the odds on favourite with their first round nemesis Neroca. Though Southern will be a completely different team from last round. With their expensively accumulated team they have made their intentions clear and would be heavily disappointed if they do not qualify for I-League proper.
The pressure will be immense on the team and the coaching staff to deliver from day one though they will not play with heavy expectations from fans unlike the other clubs from Kolkata as they have a very small pocket of fans.
The club’s ability to survive in the I-League if promoted
The investors have been investing heavily on the team from this season and if they qualify they would not have a problem in surviving with the kind of players they already have on their books.
If they do the right things, as a club, they can definitely hold their own. They have also invested heavily in youth development and that can keep them in good stead in the premier league of India if they qualify. But, first thing first they have to do justice to the favourite tag in the final round.
What will they bring to the I-League?
They will be the third team from Kolkata in the I-League after a long time and that is refreshing, to say the least with all the talks of the merger and what not. Moreover, they will have already carved their own niche in the busy world of Kolkata Maidan and have a reputation which will be enhanced further.
Though they are so called small club but they have vision and planning and have very high ambitions specially when the Big Two is struggling to have a corporate set-up, Southern have managed to hold on to their investors for the last decade and growing steadily with every passing year. They have good youth policies in place though they are not as good as United SC. They are planning to get a women team in place as well soon.
Goalkeepers –Sandip Nandy; Sourav Chakraborty, Ashok
Defenders –Deepak Mondal; Provat Lakra; Johnny Routh; Biswajit Saha; Safar Sardar; Richard, Dhanarajan.
Midfielders –Ogba Kalu; Snehasish Chakraborty; Suman Hazra; Goutam Kuzur; Nagen Tamang;.Tomba Singh; Anthony Soren, Pankaj Moula.
Forwards –Odafa Okolie; Ashim Biswas; Basanta Singh; Manvir Singh.