The Mariners will look to finally ignite their season by dousing the Flaming Orange, however, Sporting’s run of form could tilt the tie in their favour...
Mohun Bagan and Sporting Clube de Goa find themselves fighting at the wrong end of the I-League spectrum. Time is ripe, however, for a duel between these two, considering what the teams and their respective coaches have at stake heading into the tie.
Bagan, winless in three games so far, are tenth in the table and suffering from massive teething problems with their lynchpin Okolie Odafa still missing. Sporting on the other hand have played some impressive football but have only a solitary win to show for it, finding themselves in seventh spot.
The Kolkata outfit have a gamut of problems starting with the continued absence of their top scorer Odafa Okolie, out with a quadriceps injury before the season even started.
Firstly, Katsumi Yusa and Eric Muranda seemed to be incoherent in the last game against Pune FC, which resulted in Bagan having little or no presence in the attacking third. Bagan have scored just one goal in their previous three games, a plausible reason to their bad start given their reliance on Odafa.
Also Aniyichie Echezona’s silly red card means Karim Bencherifa will have to ponder and tinker a lot with his back four. Sporting’s left wing is a fluent system when on song and the Moroccan will hope Wahid Sali is more than just a match for the opposition in the right-back position.
The good news is that he has otherwise a nearly fully-fit squad to choose from and will no doubt train his troops on the importance of this tie and what it might mean to their season as a whole. Lose and Bagan will probably end up having a huge mountain to climb even to get to a respectable position in the league table. Win and things will probably ease up a lot more than what critics expect to.
"We do create a lot of chances and we should score more goals from them. I'm sure that sooner or later the team will start converting those chances," Bencherifa said.
Sporting Clube de Goa on the other hand have slightly rosier outlook considering they already have a win that Bagan have missed so far. Seventh in the league table doesn’t make for bad reading but with the quality available in the squad, Oscar Bruzon will feel that his side should be pushing up the league table.
He has a full squad to choose from and given Bagan’s frailties, he will go for the jugular. Dawson Fernandes, Ogba Kalu and Jovel Martins will be livewire for the Flaming Oranje.
"I hope we can get a win against Bagan," said Bruzon.
With both coaches under pressure to deliver their team from their present predicaments, all onuses will be on the win here. Karim will look to dispel constant thought that Bagan’s failure this time around will be due to his team being under construction, whereas Oscar knows his team are punching well below what they are capable of when they ought to be higher up the league ladder.
This fixture has all the bearings of being a sludge fest - dirty, messy and downright ugly. But it should be scarcely important to the spectator nor the personnel involved, that’s where the beauty of such matches lie.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.