March 1: Defending champions Mohun Bagan would look to consolidate their position at the top when they take on Sporting Clube de Goa in a 10th round match of the I-League at Margao on Tuesday while their arch rivals East Bengal would try to outdo Salgaocar at Vasco to keep the title race in perfect balance.
Bagan, who scored a convincing 3-1 win over Salgaocar in their last match, continue to remain at the top of the table with 21 points from nine matches and a win on Tuesday against Sporting will put them six points clear of Bengaluru FC who are at second spot with 18 points from nine games.
Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen is aware that Tuesday’s match would be fought closely just like the one in Kolkata where they manage to score 1-0 win over the same opponents. “It won’t be an easy match just like we did against Salgaocar FC. Sporting have made couple of new recruits and have strengthened their team in all departments and we need to play to our potential if we are to win,” stated Sen.
Lenny Rodrigues, who played his first match against Salgaocar, gave a good account of himself to steer the midfield along with Sony Norde, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Katsumi Yusa and Sen may start with him in place of Pronoy Halder who is back in the side along with Luciano Sobrosa after serving one match suspension.
“Our team is playing well as a unit and that has helped us to remain unbeaten and I have told the boys not to be complacent but to remain focussed and keep the winning momentum going,” stated Sen.
Sporting have come back home after having drawn against Mumbai FC and they are placed fourth with 12 points from nine matches. Coach Mateus Costa knows it’s going to be a tough match against the Kolkatan giants.
“Our team has been playing well on the whole and had we scored from the number of chances we have created we would have been on par with Bagan on points. We lost key players in important matches due to injury that has also effected our performance. Densil Theobald has recovered from injury and had practice on Monday but we will take a call tomorrow if he is available,” stated Costa.
Sporting’s success will largely depend on how well their midfield play. Denzil Theobald will spearhead the attack along with Mahmood. Odafe Okolie will always posed a threat to the rival defence led by Luciano Sobrosa.
Having beaten their opponents at home, East Bengal would be looking to maintain their supremacy over Salgaocar FC when the two sides face each other on Tuesday. With four points behind leaders Mohun Bagan, East Bengal are placed third with 17 points.
The Red and Golds have come to Vasco with their confidence high after beating Salgaocar FC at home by a narrow 2-1 margin and would be looking for a win to keep themselves in fray for the title.
Salgaocar FC have failed to live up to their expectation and went down meekly against Mohun Bagan in the last match to remain at the bottom with five points from nine matches. And come Tuesday, the Goan side will have to up pull up their socks if they are looking for a win in front of home crowd. For Salgoacar, Gilbert Oliveira, who got red card in the last match, will sit out.
Salgaocar coach Santosh Kashyap is a worried man as his strikers are not been able to score goals after creating chances. “We played well against them in Kolkata and also created lot of chances but failed to convert them into goals. In the last match our team failed to play as a unit. We cannot afford to repeat the same performance tomorrow against East Bengal, who have players like Bernard Mendy and Ranty Martins. So we have to really be on guard and play to our potential if we are to win tomorrow,” said Kashyap.