As if the uncertainty over Jose Ramirez Barreto was not enough, there was further cause for worry in the Mohun Bagan camp in the build-up to their I-League opener next week.
N.S. Manju, a dependable defender, aggravated a groin injury during practice on Wednesday. The same problem had kept Manju on the sidelines of India’s World Cup qualifiers against Lebanon.
There are five days to go for Mohun Bagan’s first match, against JCT. But coach Carlos Roberto Pereira seemed to be mentally preparing for a game without Manju and Barreto.
“We can’t say for sure whether they can play but we have to be ready for all situations,” the Brazilian said.
Barreto, too, is nursing a groin injury which he suffered during the last CFL Premier Division match against Mohammedan Sporting on Sunday. The Brazilian, who top-scored with 14 goals, sat on the sidelines as his teammates worked out.
There will be no official word on the duo’s participation till the weekend, but the body language of both suggested that neither will be in a position to take the field versus JCT.
The I-League is set to kick off in Margao with the Dempo-Salgaocar on Saturday. The first edition will feature 10 teams but the federation and its broadcast partner ZEE Sports are looking to increase the number of clubs in the future.
“There will be two clubs relegated and four promoted from the second division each season and after three years, we aim to have a top division of 16 teams so that most of the country is represented,” an official said.
EB on top
East Bengal were on top in their A.N. Ghosh Trophy match versus Calcutta Customs. Having made 337, thanks to Kamal Hasan Mondal’s 137, East Bengal dismissed the rivals for 148 and asked them to follow on.
Aikya Sammilani were also forced to follow on. Chasing Kalighat’s 410, Aikya were dismissed for 225.
East Bengal 337 (Kamal Hasan Mondal 137, Writam Kundu 50). Calcutta Customs 148 & 10/1
Bhawanipur 295. Sporting Union 126/3 (Alokendu Lahiri 68 batting, Sayan Bhattacharya 51)
Kalighat 410. Aikya Sammilani 225