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All eyes on Tolgay and Odafe today

Okolie Odafe

Calcutta: McDowell Mohun Bagan’s season proper begins on Thursday when they take on Churchill Brothers in a Group B match of the Federation Cup, in Siliguri.

After months of drama surrounding Tolgay Ozebe, the Bagan camp finally has a settled look and that should come in handy. The aura of Federation Cup and the challenge of Churchill — it is certainly not going to be easy for Bagan.

But then, when you have Okolie Odafe and Tolgay lurking in the opposition box, half the battle is won even before the match begins.

Churchill, coached by the wily Subhas Bhowmick, have not been the same team since Odafe left them for greener pastures in Bagan. But the Goan team are still counted among the best in the country.

Mohun Bagan coach Santosh Kashyap has so far put up a confident face whenever asked about his team. However, defence might turn out to be the Achilles’ Heel for the team.

Comparatively, the midfield looks sharper and the coach has quite a few options at his disposal. Jewel Raja has been just brilliant, making all the right moves in providing the strikers with goal-bound passes. At times, he himself is on the scorers’ list.

In the other match of the group, Mohammedan Sporting will lock horns with Air India. In Jamshedpur, Prayag United SC will face a tough challenge against defending champions Salgaocar SC in their first match of Group D.

But senior footballer Lalkamal Bhowmick said that they are confident of pulling off a win. “We have good players in every position. We are confidentů We will give our best,” Lalkamal said.

Pune FC will face United Sikkim FC in the other match of the group.