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Bagan have a battle on hand

Calcutta: Even a few years back this scenario would have not been really imaginable — a team that was established only a year back is leading the I-League table, while another one steeped in tradition and history are struggling at ninth spot in the 13-team League.

But that is the reality, with table toppers Bengaluru FC take on Mohun Bagan here on Sunday evening.

The heat really will be on Mohun Bagan, who need to regain some prestige in front of their fans at home and ensure that they stay in the top tier. With only 24 points from 21 matches, they have been far from impressive.

But the only positive that coach Karim Bencharifa can see on the eve of their match is that after a long period of time, Mohun Bagan have a set of fit players, including all four foreigners. That has been a rarity for the Maidan giants in the ongoing I-League.

Okolie Odafa and Christopher Chizoba are likely to play upfront, according to the coach. During practice on Saturday morning at the club ground, Bencharifa tried them out in tandem. It is expected that they would play in 4-4-2 format.

Bencharifa maintained that even though Bengaluru FC are at the top now, they had not won their last two outings. “This year, the I-League is turning out to be rather inconsistent. Teams are losing unexpectedly. There has been ups and downs. I still hope we will be able to finish within top three.

“We would like to win the rest of our matches, and finish at a better position.”