Calcutta: Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa has included Okolie Odafa in the 18-man squad for Wednesday’s crucial IFA Shield Group II match against Mohammedan Sporting, at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Odafa picked up a hamstring injury during Bagan’s Federation Cup semi-final clash against Churchill Brothers and missed the first match against United Sikkim Football Club.
“Yes, he will be in the squad,” Karim said after Tuesday’s practice session. There is a possibility of Odafa getting a start as well even though the Moroccan refused to divulge that.
“I will decide on that tomorrow morning. But one thing is for sure that he will play a part.”
Odafa’s return augurs well for Bagan who missed chances galore against USFC and should be thankful to CS Sabeeth whose goal ultimately made the difference.
Bagan may also rest side-back Shouvik Ghosh and bring in Aiborlang Khongjee. Karim is also not taking Mohammedan Sporting lightly. “I cannot afford to take them lightly. They have been playing well and will come out all guns blazing,” he revealed.
Mohammedan Sporting, meanwhile, are on a high. They were held by USFC in the first match, but were awarded the match after the Sikkim team kept an unregistered player on the bench. And against Dhanmondi Club, they made a superb comeback to win the tie 2-1. The victory, though, came at a price as Ashim Biswas got his ankle injured. “I am not going to risk Ashim for this match. Either Israil Gurung or Ishfaq Ahmed will start,” coach Sanjoy Sen said.
Mohammedan Sporting will be banking on their foreign trio of Luciano Sabrosa, Penn Orji and Joshimar. Joshimar was on target against Dhanmondi and Sen will be hoping he fires again on Wednesday.
Mohammedan Sporting have six points from two matches and are virtually through to the last-four stage. However, a loss to Bagan by a hige margin could jeopardise their chances.
On the other hand, United Sikkim Football Club (USFC) will hope to earn at least a point when they take on Dhanmondi Club of Bangladesh in another Group II match.
USFC have a couple of foreigners in their ranks. Somide Adelaja was impressive in both the matches, while Godwill Ugochukwu came in as a substitute against Bagan. Goalkeeper Dibyendu Sarkar is also in good form and was adjudged Man of the Match against Mohammedan Sporting.
USFC coach Ekendra Singh said that even though his men are out of contention, they would not yield even an inch and hope to upset the Bangladeshi outfit. “We are out of IFA Shield, but that does not mean we will not put up a fight. We have been playing well and if luck was with us, we could have got a point against Bagan as well,” he said.
USFC have veterans like Surkumar Singh and James Singh and much will depend on the duo against Dhanmondi Club.
Dhanmondi might have lost to Mohammedan Sporting, but they have showed enough promise. Sony Nordy of Haiti, who scored against Mohammedan Sporting, is their star player.
With a little bit of luck, Sony could well have scored a goal or two more against Mohammedan Sporting on Sunday. “He is very fast and we have to be watchful to keep him at bay,” Ekendra said.