Table topping Salgaocar look to prove a point of their superiority over the once mighty Bagan...
Bencherifa is by all means in hot soup with his team. They lie in eleventh, a position unheard of for the stalwarts from Kolkata. They’ve won ZERO games this season, a stark contrast to their form of yore. They were humbled at the hands of Sporting Clube de Goa and Pune FC recently while drawing out against Churchill Brothers and Bengaluru FC.
Without Odafa Okolie, their top scorer last season, whose absence has dried up the goals for Bagan and will be unavailable for the next tie too. Katsumi Yusa has been a rare bright spark in the team however his efforts at the centre of Bagan’s creativity have been undermined due to poor finishing from the front men which include Eric Muranda and CS Sabeeth.
The Moroccan coach looked angst in his post-match interview after acceding that Bagan have their work cut-out for them, while iterating that if the team’s results did not improve, his hand would be forced into resigning. “We will fight. I have taken this challenge and will try to do whatever I can to bring Bagan back on the winning track.”
Meanwhile, Salgaocar and Derrick Pereira will know what awaits them and in this lies their strength. Winning three and drawing one in their campaign has cemented their acute doggedness to get a result out of many a tough game.
Darryl Duffy, a possible signing of the season has been in riveting form scoring five, two against Mumbai recently. He is not alone in making that team excellent. Claude Gnakpa and Karma Tsewang are two super substitutes who on their day, as demonstrated against Mumbai FC, can change the complexion of a game in the blink of the eye.
Also Francis Fernandes and Gilbert Oliviera are in spirited form that has collectively uplifted the team. Pereira takes his guns to Kolkata, with him facing no injuries with the possible exception of Clifton Dias who had to be substituted in the last game due to a knock.
The winner of this match will have a big say at either end of this table. The Mariners could gain some vital breathing space between them and the bottom off the table while cementing a foundation to push on further ahead. They need to score goals though as they have only scored two goals in four games this season, a measure of the task at hand.
Salgaocar FC on the other hand are baying for Bagan’s blood to ensure they remain ahead of a surging Bengaluru FC atop while plunging the Kolkata based team into more misery.
Both these teams have a win apiece in previous encounters while drawing three out of five. A draw will certainly not be too bad for either team here, but neither team will settle for one given what is at hand to gain from a victory, a commonly recurring rhetoric in matches of such magnitude.
With all that has been said and done, it’s time to throw records out the window and expect a bout of supreme quality.
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