Preview : Mohun Bagan vs Aizawl FC
Mohun Bagan will look to make amends for their draw in the last game as they gear up to host a resilient Aizawl side in Kolkata.
Bagan, who take on second-placed Aizawl FC in a crucial Hero I-League tie at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, are coming off an AFC Cup preliminary stage win against Colombo FC.
But in their last league engagement, the former champions were held to a goalless stalemate by DSK Shivajians.
Kingfisher East Bengal, on the other hand, won handsomely both against first-timers Minerva Punjab FC and Mumbai FC and sit pretty on top of the heap three points clear of both Bagan and Aizawl. Bagan have played a game less than both of them.
Norde did not train on Friday and when quizzed about the status of his injury, he said he wants to take the field against in-form Aizawl and will take a call only on match day.
“I have more than 24 hours to take a decision. I feel some pain in my knee but I want to play. The coach asked me if I feel a pain I better take rest because two important games are coming up (AFC Cup home match against Colombo FC and East Bengal),” Norde said.
“He is struggling and there is a big question mark on whether Norde will play or not,” Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said.
Bagan have a lot of injuries in defenders Raju Gaikwad and Eduardo Perreira, winger Kean Lewis and striker Balwant Singh.
“This is the first team in Mohun Bagan history that we have injuries in so many positions besides the goalkeeper,” Sen added.
The good news is that midfielder Pronay Halder and defender Kingshuk Debnath are returning from injuries.
“They are only one point behind us and it’s going to be a very tough match,” Bagan striker Darryl Duffy said.
“We watched their set pieces and they are a very dangerous side,” the Scottish marksman added.
Aizawl, on their part, have always been good at home with their pace ever menacing. But the Federation Cup finalists might be without the services of Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Amnah who has a toe injury.
“We are ready for the match and we are not taking anything lightly. We will take a call on Mahmoud Amnah who has a toe injury. He may or may not start,” coach Khalid Jamil said.
“The team have settled down well and we’re improving match by match. I give all the credit to the boys. They got less time and adapted very well,” the former Mumbai FC gaffer said.
Both Bagan and Aizawl are on 13 points with the home side playing five games to Aizawl’s six.