I-League: Mohun Bagan Aim To Solidify Their Top Spot Against Minerva Punjab
League leaders Mohun Bagan would look to get back to winning ways and maintain their top spot in the standings when they take on I-League debutants Minerva Punjab FC at the Guru Nanak stadium in a Round 16 I-League encounter on Saturday, 15th April 2017.
Having drawn their last game 1-1 against Shillong Lajong, Bagan ascended to the top of the league standings, owning to superior goal difference. Minerva, on the other hand, have garnered 12 points from 15 matches and are currently on the 9th spot in the League standings.
While Sanjoy Sen's men would look to solidify their top spot, Minerva will be playing for pride and a place in the Federation Cup. With the top 8 I-League teams qualifying for the Federation Cup 2017, Minerva are ready to make a late surge for it.
Mohun Bagan's away form this season has been an area of concern for The Mariners, with the team failing to score in 4 games out of 7 - and winning just 1. On the flipside, Minerva will be looking to improve their home record as they have failed to win in their last 5 home matches at the Guru Nanak Stadium.
Travelling: The Mariners would be weary after travelling for almost 14 hours all the way from Shillong to Ludhiana, especially given the fact that they are playing their 3rd match within a span of 7 days.
Preparation: Bagan eventually got a feel of the Guru Nanak Stadium turf when they showed up to train at noon on Friday after initially deciding to skip training as a sign of protest.
Sanjoy Sen - Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen wasn't a happy figure at the pre-match press conference where he criticized the match organizers for not being able to train at his preferred timing. "We asked for a 4:30 PM session but got the noon slot for training. This is a big question mark not only on Mohun Bagan but Indian football," a disgruntled Sen said.
He also went on to express his dissatisfaction at the timing of the press conference. "The organizers should think of the players. They are human beings. The player who I will have to bring with me will have no rest or food after practice," Sen added.
The Mohun Bagan gaffer then sarcastically thanked the organizers. "Thank you for the cooperation. Okay. Thanks," Sen remarked.
Surinder Singh - Minerva coach Surinder Singh refused to read much into Sanjoy Sen's remarks. "It is their opinion. It is the way they think. Sometimes we face the same situation away from home," he said.
Singh, however, accepted that his side has been lacking the finishing touch. "The ball should go into the net. That is not happening. Definitely this time we are going to do that," Singh remarked.
The Minerva gaffer went on to stress the importance of this fixture in their quest for a Federation Cup berth. "We are going to make sure that we stay in the Federation Cup race. This is our last home game and we would definitely like to leave behind sweet memories," Singh signed off.
Prediction: With both teams needing a win for entirely different reasons, expect a cagey encounter in the first half, followed by a free-flowing second half.