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Md. Sporting looking for a fresh start

Ranty Martins

Calcutta: Mohammedan Sporting will be seeking a fresh start when they take on United Sikkim FC (USFC) in their Federation Cup opener in a Group D match, at the Mallapuram District Sports Complex, in Manjeri, on Tuesday.

Mohammedan Sporting have a lot of talented and promising players. However, when it has come to delivering the goods, they have often disappointed, never really living up to the expectations. That they are placed two places from the bottom in I-League standings would give an idea about their poor form.

If their on-field performances were erratic, they were also saddled with a host of other issues. While their coach Abdul Aziz Moshood was shown the door last month, star striker Tolgay Ozebe was also subsequently released due to indiscipline.

No doubt then that they will want a change in their fortunes when they start their campaign in the Federation Cup.

Given the strength in their side, it should be a cakewalk for Sanjoy Sen’s boys against the Sikkim side. But coach Sen says he is not taking his opponent lightly. “We are confident of beginning our campaign on a winning note. But this doesn’t mean that we are taking USFC lightly. We have to be on our toes and seize every opportunity,” said Sen.

Speaking further on his team’s chances, Sen said: “We haven’t fared too well in I-League, but our Calcutta Football League campaign has been good. So if you don’t do well at the national level, then your efforts go in vain.”

For Mohammedan Sporting, Syed Rahim Nabi and Penn Orji will play a key role. Sanjoy Sen will be missing the injured Luciano Sabrosa in the defence.

USFC, on the other hand, will be eager to upset Mohammedan Sporting. Coached by Australian Nathan Hall, the players will try to catch their opponents by surprise with swift movements.

In another match of the group, Dempo SC will take on Bhowanipore.

In Group A matches, United SC will take on Churchill Brothers while Pune FC face Eagles FC.

United SC haven’t had the best of preparations for the tournament and their coach Eelco Schattorie sounded pragmatic when asked about his team’s chances. “No expectations from here. I am disappointed with the preparations, so I have no expectations,” Eelco said.

“We will take one game at a time. My message to the boys will be to enjoy the games and give their best,” said Eelco.

United SC will be missing Bello Rassaq, who is out with illness. It means that Anupam Sarkar will partner Sheikh Azim in the heart of the defence.

The midfielders are Lalkamal Bhowmick, Souvik Chakraborty and Tapan Maity. United will be boosted by the presence of a fully fit Eric Brown. The Nigerian will don the role of a striker alongside CK Vineeth and Ranty Martins, who has been struggling of late.

Meanwhile, Okolie Odafe is a doubtful starter for Mohun Bagan's opener against Mumbai FC, on Wednesday. The Nigerian suffered muscle cramps in the CFL Derby against East Bengal last Saturday.