AFC Cup: Fancied Mohun Bagan look to get back on track with win over Dhaka’s Abahani Limited – Abahani will play Mohun Bagan after 28 years
With less than a week to go for the all-important I-League derby, Mohun Bagan will go easy against their Bangladeshi rival Abahani on Tuesday, even as both teams eye their first win in the AFC Cup.
Fresh from their 3-0 drubbing of reigning champions Bengaluru FC in the I-League two days ago, Mohun Bagan’s next stop is in Siliguri where they face bitter-foes East Bengal in the return leg clash on Sunday.
They go on to play two more matches on the road — April 12 (Shillong) and April 15 (Minerva) — before resuming their AFC Cup campaign against Maziya Sports & Recreation Maldives on April 19.
“We have to overcome adversities. We have been able to overcome the obstacles, be it the flight journeys between AFC Cup games and I-League games or be it the international break,” Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen about their packed schedule.
Focused on the I-League where they are three points behind Aizawl with a game in hand, Sen may opt to give his key players rest.
Sony Norde made three assists to hand them a win over Bengaluru, and it remains to be seen whether the Haitian starts tomorrow along with captain Katsumi Yusa, who struck twice.
Mohun Bagan squandered their lead on losing their AFC Cup group E opener in Bengaluru March 14 and Abahani too faced a similar fate, going down 0-2 to the Maldives Premier League champions.
The five-time Bangladesh Premier League champions, who did a double by winning the Federation Cup, are struggling to return to winning ways under coach Drago Mamic.
The Dhanmondi-based outfit became champions of Federation Cup and BPL under coach George Kottan.
But under the former Churchill Brothers coach Mamic, they have struggled to replicate their show, finishing with a wooden spoon in the Sheikh Kamal International Cup last month.
They are missing two key foreigners Sunday Chizoba and Lee Tuck and have roped in Samad Youssif, Emeka Darlington and David Jonathan.
The 28-year-old Nigerian Darlington earlier played for Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi along with Norde and the two players will be seen in different colours this time around.
Darlington will be seen alongside former Cardiff City forward Jonathan Brown and ‘Sky Blues’ would want the duo to come good in their bid to make the knockout stage for the first time in four appearances.
They are likely to miss Ghanaian defender Youssif because of visa issues and Nasiruddin Chowdhury may take his place at the heart of their five-man backline.
“In one sense Mohun Bagan and we are on the same position, as they also conceded defeat in their first match like us but they have the advantage of playing at home ground and in front of home crowds. Nothing is impossible, but the boys would have to perform,” Abahani football manager Satyajit Das Rupu said.
“If you play with full dominance for 90 minutes but fail to score and concede a goal, it has no meaning. That was what happened in our first match against Maziya.”