Margao: The fight Monday is for second place, with Salgaocar taking on the already crowned kings East Bengal here and Vasco Sports Club meeting Mahindra United in Mumbai in the last of the encounters.
With three consecutive wins under their belt, Salgaocar will be hoping to beat East Bengal in their tie of the seventh edition of the Oil PSU National Football League and finish second when they meet at the Nehru Stadium.
In Mumbai, Vasco hold the edge over their local rivals, despite a 0-4 drubbing by East Bengal Saturday. East Bengal annexed the coveted title for the second time after tallying an insurmountable 49 points from 21 matches. Now the fight for the second spot is between two Goan teams — Salgaocar and Vasco.
Salgaocar, at second place with 41 points from 21 matches, are a point ahead of Vasco. A win versus East Bengal will ensure them a second-place finish. They need to play at their best as East Bengal having bagged the title have nothing to lose and will be more relaxed.
The Manipuri quartet — Tomba Singh, Jiten Singh, Samson Singh and Manitombi Singh — who have controlled the midfield with aplomb will have to be more resourceful in order to stop the free flowing rival game.
Jitin Bist and Tomba who have been the live wire in the middle will have to play a vital role, in order to create more openings for strikers Sunday Seah, Samson and Sebastiao Endro to exploit.
Vasco in all probability will replace their Brazilian import and goalkeeper Rozario Ramos with Saji Joy.
They have another import, Luis Wanderley Weis, while attacker Marcos Pereira seems more intent now in joining Mohun Bagan with whom he has had preliminary talks.
Only pride at stake
A Staff Reporter in Calcutta adds: In Calcutta, Mohun Bagan start runaway favourites against already-relegated HAL of Bangalore. But there will be only pride at stake for the defending champions.
New Mohun Bagan coach Shyamal Banerjee says: “This is an inconsequential match for both teams and motivating the players is a big problem. But we want to finish the league on a winning note, despite whatever has happened to us,” Banerjee said.