AFC Cup South Zone Playoff : Mohun Bagan Confident Ahead of Club Valencia Test
Mohun Bagan will look to maintain their winning run in the AFC Cup Qualifying stage when they play Club Valencia in the first leg of the AFC Cup playoff round, on Tuesday (21st February). With an eye on the upcoming I-League matches, Mohun Bagan have decided to rest six of their key players, Sony Norde, Jeje, Pritam Kotal, Debjit Majumdar, Souvik Chakrobarty and Pronay Haldar, for this match. Coach Sanjoy Sen had also stayed back in Kolkata for personal reasons. Assistant Coach Shankarlal Chakrobarty will be in-charge of the side.
Travelling: Bagan travelled to Maldives a day after (19th February) their I-League clash with DSK Shivajians. However, the team is bound to be fatigued, considering the fact that they had to play 6 matches(both AFC and I-League) within a span of 18 days.
Team morale: Mohun Bagan are confident of snatching a positive result in Male, even without some of their key players. Club Valencia, on the other hand, lost to Maziya Sports and Recreation Club by a 1-0 score in their last Shield match. Hence, they are bound to be under pressure before their encounter against Mohun Bagan.
Rival Watch: Club Valencia lost their last six matches in the Dhivehi Premier League, that ended in December, escaping the demons of relegation by a whisker. They, however, won their FA Cup, ending their 8 year trophyless run.
They emerged victorious against Thimpu City by a 3-0 scoreline in their AFC Cup preliminary round tie.
The team from Maldives has three Nigerian players in their ranks, centre back Chizi Kaka Chinda, central midfielder Chinonye Prince Chinda and striker Godfrey West Omodu.
Preparations: Mohun Bagan conducted their official training today from 11 am to 12 noon (Maldives Time) at Male International Stadium, Maldives- which is the match venue. The training started with some light warm up with the ball followed by tactical and situation practice session.
Club Valencia are still in their pre-season phase and have only played 3 matches this year, including the initial preliminary round of the AFC Cup.
Manager quotes: Bagan coach for the tie, Shankarlal Chakrobarty played down talks of Bagan taking it easy in the AFC Cup Qualifiers, despite resting key players. "For the past three years, all the Bagan players are of top quality. There is no difference between the players we rested and the players that will play."
Chakrobarty asserted that Bagan will push for a result against Valencia, "We came here to win. Valencia is a very strong side and they have very good players but we are fully prepared."
Club Valencia coach Ahmed Mujuthaba stressed on the importance of the match. "It is an important game for us to qualify for the group stage and the team is fully prepared for this game," he said.
Prediction: Club Valencia 1-2 Mohun Bagan
The Match will start at 4 pm Maldives time. Valencia are yet to confirm the telecast details.