Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan host the new comers from Manipur NEROCA FC. Mohun Bagan who drew their last match against Shillong Lajong FC will look to return to winning ways, as they will be facing the young and impressive NEROCA FC who are riding high on two back to back to wins against Gokulam Kerala FC and Chennai City FC. The match will be played at Vivekanada Yuva Bharati Krirangan (VYBK).
Ravaged by injury scares and a suspension, the Green and Maroons will be hopeful of breaking the double-digit mark on the points table after dropping two points against Shillong Lajong at home in the last round.
Head coach Sanjoy Sen expected more from his side, which has already drawn two games out of four.
“We have to learn from our past mistakes. It is not that we haven't scored goals in the game against Minerva and Lajong - the two games we dropped points in. We conceded after scoring the first goal and it is imperative that we don't drop points in our home games,” he said.
Mohun Bagan Head Coach Sanjoy Sen also added,
“For the last three years I have been harping over the lack of consistency and seldom has it been that Mohun Bagan have won three games back-to-back. If you look at it, right now we are kind of in a similar position in terms of points compared to out title-winning season,” he reasoned.
Sony Norde and Ansumana Kromah still remain under the scanner to take part in the game after sitting out the last one while Arijit Bagui and Azharuddin Mallick have been ruled out altogether. Defender Kingsley Eze Obumneme will serve a suspension after his red card against Lajong.
However, Sen did not want the injuries to be an excuse, especially to that of Yuta Kinowaki who has been ruled out for at least five weeks.
“It is a part and parcel of the modern game. Unfortunately this season the injuries are a bit more but we have to make results from what we have. We are missing Yuta of course but it does not mean the team was wholly reliant on him. He played the lone match and he was good and everyone termed him as the man to look out for. We might never know if he would have been that important for us until and unless he plays more games. So it is unfortunate but there is no point crying over spilt milk”, he expressed.
The former United SC man only had words of praise for the visitors. He said,
“They are a good side with five good foreigners. They have Subash Singh and Saran Singh who were once part of our team. Even Govin Singh has played for India and Felix Chidi already has two goals to his name. Gift and I have a good relation. He is a young and enterprising coach and they are an organised outfit.”
Skipper Shilton Paul sat beside his gaffer pleaded the Green and Maroon supporters to throng the stadium in numbers for the game.
"We were discussing amongst ourselves that the turnout in the last game was abhorrently low. We expected to get a lot of support from the stands after what we saw in the Kolkata derby. People in the stands fill the players with more positivity so I hope we get that turnout in the upcoming games," he said.
Hero I-League debutants NEROCA are just two points behind the Mariners with six points in their kitty with a game in hand and the confidence is at sky-high but head coach Gift Raikhan knows the threat the Kolkata giants pose.
“It will be good for the people of Manipur if NEROCA beat a big club like Mohun Bagan. But beating Mohun Bagan is not easy at all and everyone knows that.”
“We cannot predict. They are not about one or two important foreigners. Mohun Bagan is Mohun Bagan. The club's name is there and they will play for the club's name. It is not going to be easy. Despite their injuries and suspension, they will still be strong,” he said when asked if this is the right time to play Mohun Bagan, who are missing quite a few key players.
He further added,
“We won our last two games after losing our first one and the boys are now highly motivated and they want to show that they can play that football of a higher standard. We will stick to our plan and give our hundred percent.”
Lastly, he shed some light on the bonding with his team, who won the Second Division League last season.
“My senior players, Gouramangi (Singh), Sushil (Kumar Singh), Naoba (Singh), Subash (Singh) are all like my younger brothers. I am just a coach by name but we discuss like peers and friends. We have a healthy addition of youth too and so all of us have mixed like tea with sugar”, joked the former Pune FC coach on the eve of the game.
While the 2015 champions will like to reduce the lead of top-placed Minerva Punjab, an upset cannot be ruled out at the majestic Salt Lake Stadium once the game kicks at 5:30 PM.