Calcutta: Not often in the last decade or two has one seen Mohammedan Sporting being classified as the favourites in a prestigious tournament. But it’s a resurgent Mohammedan Sporting at the moment and they are indeed the favourites in the second semi-final of the IFA Shield, against United SC.
After years of ignominious decline from the status of being one of the Big Three of city soccer, the Mohammedan Sporting of present look to be a formidable outfit. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they are one of the title contenders in the tournament.
While saying so, one isn’t implying that it would be an easy match for the Sanjoy Sen-coached side.
United SC have been plagued with financial woes from the beginning of the season and they are yet untangle the knot. Their Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie has resigned after a patient wait spanning almost a year.
However, the players are still fighting it out and, on their day, they can trump even the best in the business.
United, in fact, are the defending champions and it’s really unfortunate that they have failed to find a sponsor despite being one of the most promising sides of the country.
It is this adversity that may lead them to play desperate football. And when it’s desperate, it often becomes dangerous and that is something that Mohammedan Sporting will have to keep in mind.
United will be missing the services of midfielder Lalkamal Bhowmick who is nursing an injured knee.
But Ranty Martins will be back after sitting out the last match. United will also have the services of their other foreign recruits — Eric Brown, Bello Rassaq and Hasan-al Moustapha. Interim coach Anjan Nath indicated that apart from Ranty, Eric and Bello would start while Hasan will be on the bench.
Mohammedan Sporting have no injury worries. Sanjoy sees it as an equal battle. “It will be a contest between two teams who know each other very well… We will alter our plans according to the situation. United SC are a good side, but I want to make it clear that my boys are not afraid of any team. It will be a 50:50 match and I will have specific plans for Ranty… It’s not a wise idea to allow him to operate freely,” Sen said.
Ranty, on the other hand, is keeping his focus on the match and is not ready to think about the off-field problems that his team have been encountering.
“We have been facing problems from the very beginning of the season. But we are not thinking about that. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is, we will play to win. Yes, it will be a little difficult without Lalkamal, but injuries are a part of the game. We have been playing well and we hope to overcome the obstacles on Tuesday.”