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Bagan keen to utilise ‘gift’
- Washed-out East Bengal vs Md. AC match to be replayed today

Calcutta: This second shot at the Calcutta Football League’s Super Division that Mohun Bagan have got has been a gift, so to say. A gift from Mohammedan Sporting. That was when Mohammedan Sporting upset East Bengal’s applecart with a victory. Saturday, Mohun Bagan come across Mohammedan Sporting in their penultimate Championship leg match, and coach Aloke Mukherjee says he is determined not to let any advantage from this gift slip.

Today Mohun Bagan are on top of the standings. East Bengal, whose match versus Mohammedan AC Friday could not start because of the rains (they play Saturday), follow. Mohammedan Sporting have little to lose, and technical director P.K. Banerjee and coach Mohammed Habeeb feel it is essential that at least pride be preserved.

While Mohun Bagan are on a high from their 3-0 drubbing of Tollygunge Agragami, Mohammedan Sporting are feeling good with the news that star attacker Syed Rahim Nabi is now fit and will be able to play. The issues are varied at either end.

“Our worry is the Mohammedan Sporting defence, which has performed well,” said Mukherjee. “We will have to look out for Jose Ramirez Bareto, because he can make all the difference,” said Habeeb.

Mohammedan Sporting have acquired a new foreigner, Nigerian Peter Nowjee. Hence, going by the IFA’s rules, two of the three (the others being Habeeb Adekunle and John Ugwu) will play. Adekunle looks good to keep his place.

Mohun Bagan, as usual, will depend heavily on the Barretos, the Marcos Parreiras and the Rennedy Singhs, while the Basudeb Mondals do the needful in the rear. The defence, though, needs to sharpen up its skills.

Too soggy to start

Meanwhile, at the East Bengal ground, as the rains lashed, the match officials arrived 15 minutes late and went straight to the ground.

Referee Biswajit Bera conferred with the rival captains and coaches and, with the rains having let up a bit, for a time it seemed the match will start. However, with the showers coming down again sharply, this idea was discarded.

Later, coach Subhas Bhowmick said: “The match could have easily been played and done away with. They are big worries, these pending issues. I guess the ground was okay.”

He also stated that while Mike Okoro will remain unavailable on Saturday for personal reasons (he might return home for a short while, it was learnt), the condition of Alvito D’Cunha was not really known to the coach. “I must ask him when he will be back. Only then can I judge how much longer he will take to recuperate.”

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