The star striker will be part of the eighteen member squad for Bagan to face their city rivals...
It’s yet another derby in Kolkata this weekend as Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan face-off at the Salt Lake Stadium in a round 20 I-League encounter on Saturday afternoon.
Mohammedan are coming into the game on the back of a morale boosting 3-1 win over Sporting Clube de Goa last weekend.
They will be missing the services of Mehrajuddin Wadoo who was sent off in the last game while Syed Rahim Nabi will join the squad late on Friday evening after returning from a match played for a corporate.
Goalkeeper Luis Barretto is expected to be benched with Ashok Singh set to start. Penn Orji didn’t train with the rest of the squad on the eve of the tie but could make it into the starting eleven.
“This is not a big match for my side. The media makes it look like that. The matches against Bengaluru FC or Churchill Brothers or even Dempo SC are big matches. I will try to win the fixture.
“Football is a game of eleven players and I am not concerned about Odafa Okolie’s return,” said Mohammedan coach Sanjoy Sen.
Scoring goals has been a problem for the Black and Whites and Sen would hope that his attacking players carry on their form from the last tie against Sporting.
In the three matches played this season between Mohammedan and Bagan, the result has been a goal-less affair on each occasion.
Mohun Bagan’s confidence is high despite the 1-1 draw against a star studded East Bengal outfit. They dominated the proceedings for much of the game and should have picked up full points.
The return of skipper Odafa Okolie into the squad will be a huge boost of coach Karim Bencherifa as his team have scored less goals (17) than the number of matches (18) played alongside Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers.
Ram Malik, Pankaj Moula, Shouvik Ghosh and Prita Kotal were busy their obligations toward corporate teams in Chennai and returned only on Friday to train with the rest of the squad. Shankar Oraon and Monotosh Ghosh haven’t yet joined the Bagan squad and are still plying their trade with the ‘office’ sides.
Meanwhile Bagan suffered a blow as defender Aibor Khongjee returned to the club with a groin injury after playing in the 2-2 draw against Bangladesh in an international friendly in the midweek.
“Maybe after East Bengal, they have one of the best squads in the I-League. They are very physical side and have a lot of experience. They have options in each department and are not an easy team to play against,” said Bencherifa.
On paper, Bagan must edge it but Mohammedan are capable of springing a surprise.
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