AFC Cup South Zone Playoff : Mohun Bagan Eye AFC Cup Progress
Mohun Bagan will aim to book their place in the AFC Cup main draw, when they play Club Valencia in the second leg of the AFC Cup South Zone playoff round at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Tuesday (27th February). The first leg of the tie played in Male, ended in a 1-1 draw with Club Valencia striker Godfrey West restoring parity from the spot. However, Bagan will carry the advantage of an away goal, meaning that a goalless draw would take Bagan to the AFC Cup group stages.
Travelling: Valencia reached Kolkata on 25th February, which means that they had enough time to adjust to the weather conditions.
Team morale: Mohun Bagan are confident of snatching a positive result in their home turf. The club will be boosted by the return of their talismanic winger, Sony Norde. Club Valencia, on the other hand, are also confident of a good show.
Team News: Sony Norde, who had his share of problems with a recurring knee injury, returns to the matchday squad. Scottish striker Darryl Duffy, Katsumi Yusa, Anas Edathodika, Pronay Halder and Pritam Kotal are likely to be rested by the Bagan gaffer, while Shilton Paul might miss the tie owing to an injury. On the other hand, Club Valencia have no major injury concerns going into the game.
Preparations: Both teams have had a one-week window to prepare for the second leg. Club Valencia reached Kolkata on the 25th and had a couple of solid training sessions at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium. Meanwhile, Bagan trained at their club ground.
Manager quotes: Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen had asserted that his team will go for the win,"We will have to start from zero. This is a must-win situation for us and we will try to register a big win."
With an eye on the upcoming I-League matches, Sen decided to rest a few of his players who played in the first leg. "I don't believe in rotation.The players need rest. Within a span of ten days, we have to play 4 matches. So I have to rest my players," he added.
Club Valencia coach Ahmed Mujuthaba is also hoping for a good show from his boys. "We did well to earn a draw at our home ground and we will give a tough fight here as well," he said.
Some Stats: Bagan are unbeaten in 12 matches this year. They have won 8 and drawn 4.
Club Valencia lost their last 6 matches 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.
Predicted Score: Mohun Bagan 2-1 Club Valencia
The winner of their tie will face last year’s runners-up JSW Bengaluru FC of India, Maldivian champions Maziya Sports & Recreation and Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh, who are the direct entrants in Group E.
The match will kick-off at 4 pm IST and will be streamed live on Xtra-Time's Youtube channel.