DSK Shivajians' I-League travels will resemble nothing less than a yo-yo over the last month, with trips to Shillong and Ludhiana now set to be interlaced with a joust with Mohun Bagan in Kolkata, on Saturday, 18th February.
The Reds and Mariners head into this game on level footing with respect to form - Two draws and One win apiece from the three games they faced each other. At the duel between the duo at the Shivajians' home turf, the Reds narrowly missed out on three points despite dominating a subdued Bagan side.
Dave Rogers, coach of the Maharashtra team, will look to call on the bravado and resolve that brought his team all three points at the home of Shillong Lajong. In fairness, five points from a possible nine on the road is a great return.
The DSK-owned side will continue to be stripped off of the services of Sasa Kolunija, without whom they have conceded just one goal. Sairuat Kima has been a solid addition, acting a temporary defender when the Shivajians are under pressure, and the youngster made an impression on the opposition last time they played each other as well.
The onus will also be on Juan Quero, to deliver the goods as he did last year against the Green and Maroon, where his brace went a long way in earning the then coach Derrick Pereira's team a draw while destroying Bagan's hopes of retaining their trophy. However, goals continue to be a hindrance for the Reds this season, as they have scored just eight goals in the corresponding number of games.
Sanjoy Sen will take his team into the fixture knowing full well a draw, like against Mumbai FC, will nowhere near be good enough for them to go toe to toe with the league leaders and fierce rivals East Bengal. Kinshuk Debnath and Kean Lewis will remain absentees as Sony Norde has been given clearance to start despite his knee niggles. Jeje Lalpekhlua was rested for the last tie and came on for 18 minutes, but is expected to be restored to the starting XI tomorrow.
Winning is everything for both teams as the half-way mark of the season approaches. Bagan will certainly head full tilt at the Shivajians, but don't count out the team from Pune, delve out a smooth uppercut if the Mariners sail too close to shore. Kick off is at 4.35 PM IST.
MOHUN BAGAN A.C.
INJURED: Raju Gaikwad, Kinshuk Debnath, Kean Lewis
KEY PLAYER: Darryl Duffy
INJURED: Sasa Kolunjia
KEY PLAYER: Juan Quero Barraso