Mohun Bagan gear up to host Aizawl FC at the Rabindra Sarobar stadium in Kolkata on Saturday, 4th February, in what is the first of a crucial run of games which will see them take on Colombo FC in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifiers before taking on East Bengal in the Kolkata derby.
The Green and Maroons' head coach Sanjoy Sen rued the number of injuries his team at such an important phase of the season. "This is the first time during my stint with Mohun Bagan that we have injuries in so many positions besides the goalkeeper," Sen lamented after confirming that Balwant Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Kean Lewis and Eduardo are injured while Sony Norde is a doubt to feature in the game.
"I have to give rest to my players, at the same time I need to field the best possible team in order to get the full points. We faced a similar problem last season as well but the players were ready to take on the challenge. This season is no different," he added further.
The 56-year-old coach also seemed wary of Khalid Jamil's Aizawl FC, assessing that his teams are always difficult to play against. "They are a good side and are very well organised. I know their coach (Khalid Jamil) very well. He knows how to play against East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. I have discussed with my players about their style of play during the practice session today. I have followed all their matches on TV except the last one. Our target will be to get 3 points from the match," he elaborated.
The 2014/15 I-League winning coach went on to claim that their midweek win away to Colombo FC in the AFC Cup qualifier has left the team in good spirits.
"It is no doubt the win against Colombo FC will boost our confidence. It’s taken for granted that winning against teams from countries like Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar is no big deal. But I know it does get tough to snatch full points against them, playing in their conditions. Although the ground in Colombo was good, but they gave a good account of themselves in the first half. Luckily we managed to score a goal in the second half. The win will definitely boost our confidence," he assessed.
Sanjoy Sen proceeded to defend his choice to play Shilton Paul in goal against Colombo FC and stated, "If you remember Shilton played in the last three matches when we won the I-League two seasons back. There will be times when I will play Shilton or for that matter, anyone who I feel can do the job for me."
The Mizoram-based side's head coach Khalid Jamil expressed confidence ahead of taking on Mohun Bagan and said, "We are ready for the match and we are not taking anything lightly. In away games, the first thing you need is one point. Then we will try to get the three points. They are one of the best teams in the league."
He did confirm that their creative hub in midfield, Syrian Mahmoud Al Amna, is a doubtful starter for this game after he picked up a toe injury against DSK Shivajians. "We will take a call on Mahmoud Amnah who has a toe injury. He may or may not start," said a concerned Jamil.
The Kuwait-born coach went on to credit his players for the impressive start they have made to the season, which sees them sit third on the table. "The team have settled down well and we’re improving match by match. I give all the credit to the boys. They got less time and adapted very well," he commented.