Bencherifa's side will be hoping to leave their horrendous form behind to gather all three points against an organized United side...In yet another Kolkata derby, Mohun Bagan will host United Sports Club in a round 13 I-League fixture on Friday at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Mohun Bagan have garnered only three points from their last five outings and have scored a solitary goal in those 450 minutes of play. The team has looked to have run out of ideas of late and Odafa Okolie's poor fitness is only indicative of the plight of Bagan who are dependent on the Nigerian to inspire them.
They managed to get rid of Eric Muranda whose erratic form was evident for all, except for the Bagan technical staff who took 12 round of matches to understand the same. They have roped in Chizoba Christopher and the striker may get his share of action if the registration procedure is completed.
Mohun Bagan's midfield lacks guile and the fact that Bencherifa has had to resort to using Kingshuk Debnath as a defensive midfielder is indicative of the issues they have. However, Ram Malik, the young midfielder, who has shown glimpses of his class is all set to earn his fourth start of the I-League campaign.
"We are in a difficult situation. The team is under tremendous pressure. I'm trying to make several youngsters in my squad to learn to keep cool.
"The game will be difficult. United are a very strong and know how to keep the ball. We should not be frustrated with that. I am hoping that this will be our turning point as we need to start winning," said Bagan coach Bencherifa.
United Sports Club have been one of the most organized sides in the league. They have stuck to their basic philosophy of playing short ground passes though they haven't always have been able to unlock the opposition's defense.
The team is fresh from a 1-1 draw against the title-contenders Pune FC and will look to continue their good form.
Shouvik Chakrabory has been one of the best performers this season and he will pair up with Eric Brown at the heart of the midfield. C.K. Vineeth will be given the license to invade the Mohun Bagan box at his will and will help the prolific Ranti Martins get the better of the Green and Maroon defense. A good news for the United side is that Lalkamal Bhowmick is now fit to return to action but he will not be included in the starting eleven due to lack of match fitness.
"Mohun Bagan is a cat in a corner. Which way she will jump? Unpredictable. That's why we are trying to focus on ourselves and trying to improve our game from the Pune match where we displayed two different faces. First half was good while the second half was not up to the standard technically. Our work rate and team spirit is fine. We are getting in a important phase with seven big games in a row and a lot of them being away. We have the ability to beat everyone but still lacking the power to control the game the way I like it. Lalkamal is fit but not game fit. Asif has got an injury today and I will assess tomorrow how it is," United SC coach Eelco Schattorie said.
He also told that he is eyeing all three points in the match, in order to stay in the title-hunt.
"We have to win to stay on top. I-League is very competitive this year. All the teams have got some new players while we have to do with what we have. So it's a difficult task ahead," he remarked.
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