The Black and Whites of Kolkata will go into this game knowing a win will strengthen their top table ambitions, while a loss for the Goan side will put them in jeopardy...
The I-League is back! India’s premier football league returns from its two week slumber with round ten and what better way for the season to resume as Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting face defending I-League champions Churchill Brothers at the Salt Lake stadium, Kolkata with all to play for.
The Black and Whites will look to strength their top four ambitions by sprinting to a win over Churchill and possibly hammering another nail into the Goan side’s relegation coffin. The Red Machines in turn will look to seal a rare away win, whilst trying to elongate their survival in the top division.
Mohammedan head into this match in breezing form. They have won three of their last five matches after a lukewarm start to the season and now find themselves seventh in the table just four adrift of second placed Pune FC. No doubt they will aim to get this win to catapult themselves into the top four five for the time being.
They have amongst them the league’s top scorer in Josimar Silva. The Brazilian has racked up seven goals for the Kolkata side, with his partnership with Australian Tolgay Ozbey now beginning to bear fruit for coach Bola Moshood. Penn Orji’s form too has been blossoming with him turning into the lynchpin he was with East Bengal.
The signing of five IMG-Reliance players viz. Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Syed Rahim Nabi, Ishfaq Ahmed, Manish Maithani and Luis Barreto has further added steel to the squad.
Said coach Moshood, “The team is on a high and we are playing as a unit. If we can continue to perform in the same vein, then I see no reason why we cannot defeat Churchill."
Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, Churchill Brothers find themselves in all sorts of trouble.
The beleaguered champions find themselves running a deficit with regards to teams around them as they continue to fall precariously into the drop zone. They arrive in Kolkata hoping to shift a few gears and fight for survival.
They have released all their foreign players while efforts to reign in new ones are under way with Yasser Shahen and Abdel Hamid Shabhana being added on the roster though only the former will be eligible to play in the tie. Furthermore, a budding injury crisis at the club had to see then forfeit the Goan Super League title decider, gifting the title to Sporting Goa. This left the president infuriated, yet not much of a toothless Red Machines can be expected unless they work miracles.
As coach Mariano Dias has already thrown in the towel in his quest to discover what is wrong with his squad, it will left to much of the remaining squad and the added firepower they bring in to try and lift the faltering Champions to safety.
"There is no pressure on us. We are just eight matches into the I-League. There are four matches left in the first phase and we will be looking to as many points as possible," said Subhash Bhowmick, the technical director of the side.
This then looks as clear cut a result as a taciturn I-League campaign so far will spring at you, with Mohammedan being the favourites to get three points. Yet, as the league has taught us this year specifically, count out the underdogs at your own peril.
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