This is a clash which we all have been waiting for long – McDowell Mohun Bagan taking on defending champions Salgaocar SC. On paper, the quality of both the sides can never be doubted. But none of the sides have been able to do justice to their potential as yet.
Bagan’s fans may disagree to that as the Green and the Maroon stay on 20 points from 10 matches – very much in contention at the moment. But the quality of football and co-ordination expected when they take the field hasn’t been on display so far.
Salgaocar, on the other hand stay on 12 points from 10 matches and despite a dream Federation Cup which kicked-off the season, they are struggling to display the brand of football which landed them the I-League crown last season.
Mohun Bagan will be missing NP Pradeep and Kingshuk Debnath – both out due to double suspensions while AIFF Player-of-the-Year Sunil Chhetri stays out of contention nursing a Grade 2 ligament tear on his left ankle. To add to woes, an injured Brazilian medio Hudson Lima and Aussie stopper-back Daniel Zeleny are also missing.
Coach Prasanta Banerjee, further added: “We are not sure whether Jose Barreto will be able to play against Salgaocar. We will be taking a call on the morning of the match.”
Rival compatriot Karim Bencherifa won’t be minding all that. The Goan outfit who had a practice session in the morning stay keen to carry on their winning streak. They beat HAL Bangalore by a solitary goal in their last match.
In a jocular tone, Coach Karim Bencherifa commented: “It seems we are going shopping at the moment. As of now, we have won the Federation Cup and are on top of the Goa League. The I-League is the third tournament on the list and hopefully we can get something here as well.”
“Mohun Bagan are a strong team. But we are ready for them. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone. The best part stays that all our players stay available for the match.”
The kick-off at the Sale Lake Stadium is at 2pm.
Total Matches: 24
Mohun Bagan won: 10
Salgaocar won: 8
Goals scored by Mohun Bagan: 30
Goals scored by Salgaocar: 25
Last two meetings in I-League:
January 15, 2011 (Margao):
Mohun Bagan 3 (Chidi Edeh – brace; Ishfaq Ahmed)
Salgaocar 1 (Ryuji Soeuka – penalty) –
May 8, 2011 (Kolkata):
Mohun Bagan 2 (Chidi Edeh – brace)
Salgaocar 2 (Ryuji Sueoka, Gilbert Oliviera).
April 2002 (Margao):
Salgaocar Club 4 (Sunday Seah – brace; Alvito D’Cunha, Alex Ambrose)
Mohun Bagan 3 (Jose Barreto – brace; Basudeb Mondal)
December 22, 2007 (Margao):
Mohun Bagan 5 (Jose Barreto – brace; Bhaichung Bhutia; James Singh; Jonathan Bobo)
Salgaocar 4 (Boniface Ambani Felix – 4 goals).