Mohun Bagan host Maziya Sports and Recreation (S & R) Club on Wednesday, 19th April, in an Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) Cup Group E fixture at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, in Kolkata.
The two sides are locked on three points each, both having beaten the group’s whipping boys - Bangladeshi side Abahani Limited Dhaka. Therefore, this game represents the perfect opportunity for the Mariners to clinch three more points, giving them further chance of qualification from their group, with Bengaluru FC primed to be the other side to seal qualification to the knockout stages of the competition.
Sanjoy Sen - Will need to be cautious against Maziya S&RC early on
With the I-League title chase looking set to boil down to the final day, Sanjoy Sen is expected to field a second-string side comprising mostly of fringe domestic players.
The fact that the Maroon and Green brigade have their eye out in the domestic league and would take the continental competition a little bit lightly, so to say, offers Maziya the perfect opportunity to perform a smash and grab and get three away points.
The last time the Kolkata-based side took the field in this competition was when they hosted cross-border rivals Abahani and sent them packing 3-1 thanks to goals from Balwant Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sony Norde.
The likes of Debjit Majumder, Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Balwant Singh and Sehnaj Singh have not been included in the 18-man-squad. Foreign stars Sony Norde, Katsumi Yusa and Eduardo Ferreira have been rested too. Shibinraj Kunniyil is expected to make his debut for the National Club of India in between the sticks.
Kean Lewis, who injured himself in the first qualifying round of this particular competition while facing Colombo FC in January, will make a comeback after recovering successfully. Pronay Halder and Subhasish Bose have been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Know Your Rivals - Maziya Sports & Recreation Club (S&RC)
Maziya, one of Maldives's most successful sides, head into this tie as the defending champions of the Dhivehi Premier League (DPL). Relatively fresh from their last competitive match played against New Radiant on 13th April, the Male-based club will be eager to have a go at the side looking to be crowned the Indian champions.
Since Macedonian Marjan Sekulovski has taken charge, he has brought a change to Maziya’s tactics, as seen against Bengaluru, with him they play more of a passing game and use midfield to launch attacking play rather than flanks.
The Maldivians will be no pushovers, with several talented international stars in the lineup. In fact, Maziya is the club that has contributed the most players to the Maldives national team in the past two seasons. Six Maziya players started for Maldives against Palestine in Asian cup qualifying last month. They are Ashadh Ali (captain), Amdhan Ali, Samooh Ali, Assadhulla Abdhulla, Mohamed Umair and Imaaz Ahmed.
As a testament to the fact that they will not be easy opponents one only need recall that they had held Bengaluru goalless for the ninety minutes before conceding, and consequently losing, in stoppage time in their last AFC Cup tie.
With no injuries to the side, Sekulovski will bring back star winger Imaaz Ahmed after he was rested against New Radiant last week. Milos Kovacevic will also slot in at left-back after he was suspended for the domestic game last Thursday.
Marjan Sekulovski - We have prepared specially for this match
Can Skelovski's sergeants take advantage of a weakened Bagan lineup, or will Sen’s second string sentry be more than a match on the night?
MOHUN BAGAN A.C. TEAM NEWS
Injured: Pronay Halder, Subhasish Bose
Doubtful: Raynier Fernandes
Key Player: Jeje Lalpekhlua
MAZIYA S&RC TEAM NEWS
Key Player: Assadhulla Abdulla