AFC Cup 2017: Mohun Bagan's Sanjoy Sen - First leg lead over Colombo FC is no advantage

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Mohun Bagan head coach Sanjoy Sen was clear of his intent of progressing from the 2017 AFC Cup Preliminary Qualifying Round...

Mohun Bagan head coach Sanjoy Sen did not portray even a single trace of complacency on the eve of the 2017 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup's South Zone Preliminary Stage second leg match between Mohun Bagan [India] and Colombo FC [Sri Lanka].

"There is no advantage. We go into this match which is extremely important. We want to forget that we already have won 2-1 in the first leg. We will play for an outright win", said Sen in his opening statement when addressing gathered reporters.

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Colombo FC, debutants in this competitions are already 2-1 down from the first leg and to make matters worse, they will be missing two of their foreign players owing to visa rejection from the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka.

Nasiru Opeyemi and Afeez Olayemi Olofin's absence did not make Sen gleam about his team's chances brighten up. Instead, he shrugged off any thoughts of fielding a second-string side.

He replied, "I cannot say anything now. We will see after the match. For us, we will play our full strength side. Also, we have won four games without Sony Norde, so it doesn't mean that without him we are playing a weakened side. With him, without him, Mohun Bagan always fields the best eleven."

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The Kolkata giants have been more often than not accused of not prioritising, if not giving the same importance to the continental tournament over the domestic I-League. However, Sen made sure that his voice reached his detractors. "We have only played one game in the AFC Cup. The players want to achieve good results in both tournaments"
"If we prepare accordingly, we won't have any problem. Last season we played the I-League and the AFC Cup and within four days of the end of the I-Leauge we played the Federation Cup and we did not have any problems winning that"

"If you talk about football aesthetics of fatigue and tiredness, we wouldn't have been able to win the Federation Cup final 5-0. So, all competitions are equally important", the former United SC coach gave a full explanation.

The Green and Maroon brigade were knocked out of last season's competition by Singapore's Tampines Rovers in the Round of 16 play-off in Guwahati with a 1-2 scoreline favouring the Mighty Stags.

I-League title rivals Bengaluru FC bettered them and created history by being the first Indian club to reach the final of the Asian competition only to face agony at the hands of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, finishing as runners-up.

When asked about how disappointing was the early ouster, the 56-year-old relayed the whole story.

"There wasn't much disappointment because the reasons were beyond our control. We didn't have our players as they had to released for their respective ISL (Indian Super League) clubs"

"Bengaluru FC managed to keep hold and went on with their target. We regret it but if we had kept the players, we might have been able to scale the heights Bengaluru FC achieved last season in the AFC Cup."

Talking about the Sri Lankan champions Colombo FC, Sen made it very clear that his team will go for the kill in any situation.

"Colombo FC might not have many options other than attack because they are trailing 2-1 from the first leg. We might have that cushion but we also have that opportunity to launch counter-attacks in that fold."
Also, he stressed on how a team often changes tactics after playing against one another already and there were also praises for a youngster from the Island nation.

"When we have played a team once we tend to understand their game and hence, the approach becomes different. Let's see how much our boys capitalise on that."

"Though I have seen them play only one match on the Asian level, I liked the way Zarwan Johar played. He played against our players in the last match."

After the game on Tuesday, Mohun Bagan travel to Siliguri to face cross-city rivals East Bengal in the season's first Kolkata Derby. Sen chose to keep mum about the 'big match' and concentrate on the fixture at hand first.
"It is not the time to think about the derby. We still have time and we won't play the derby against some team from Singapore or some other foreign land. We know the players and their game. We will think about the derby after the end of this game. I believe tomorrow's match will be harder than the derby", he signed off.