Calcutta: Winless McDowell Mohun Bagan will be looking for their first win of the Airtel I-League when they host Sporting Clube de Goa, at the Salt Lake Stadium, on Saturday.
The three matches where Mohun Bagan weren’t impressive have all been away fixtures. So, Bagan can finally look for some home comfort and look to log full points from this weekend encounter.
The city giants suffered their first defeat of the season in the previous round when they were beaten 0-2 by Pune FC. Nigerian central defender Echezona Anyichie was sent off in that match and thus, has been ruled out of this important tie against Sporting Clube.
However, this only increases problems for coach Karim Bencharifa as far as selection of the playing XI is concerned. Bagan are already without captain Okolie Odafe, who has suffered a setback in his recovery and is therefore, unavailable for this match as well.
However, Bencharifa, who won the I-League with Salgaocar in 2010-11 despite having a modest squad at his disposal, remains upbeat and is looking forward to the challenge.
“I am satisfied with the performance of my team so far. Yes, we are yet to record a win, but I am confident we will get our first on Saturday itself.
“There are certain areas where we need to improve and one of them is converting our chances. We have young players and expectedly, they will take time to settle down,” the Moroccan said.
With no Echezona, Bencharifa may field Aiborlang Khongjee as the stopperback alongside Kinshuk Debnath, which means Ravinder Singh will be at the left-back’s position. In the upfront, Eric Muranda will partner CS Sabeeth and Zakeer Mundampara.
Katsumi Yusa, Denson Devadas and Adil Khan will form the three-man midfield. Katsumi, playing his first season in Bagan colours, has impressed with his passing abilities. He is linking up well with the hardworking Eric and Clube will have to be careful in dealing with the two of them.
The Goa outfit enjoyed a breather as they will be playing their first I-League fixture in a fortnight.
Their Spanish coach Oscar Bruzon would be hoping to build on that hard-fought 1-0 away win against Lajong FC. It cannot be anything better if his men upset Bagan in the Sporting Clube’s fourth straight fixture away from home.