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Crucial tie for Mohun Bagan

Calcutta: As Karim Bencharifa had said the other day, Mohun Bagan do require at least one win from their last two matches to eliminate the possibilities of relegation from the I-League’s top tier.

The best way to make sure it happens is by beating United SC when the two sides square off on Sunday, at the Kalyani Stadium.

Neither team is safe from relegation as yet with United SC, positioned at 11th, being only four points above the bottom-placed Mohammedan Sporting, while Bagan are just one step ahead of the purple jerseys at No. 10. Besides, Bagan have played one game more than United SC.

So, in order to be at the safe zone, Bagan should get their act right and not wait till their last game as it would create unnecessary pressure on the players.

“We are still not fully safe and thus this will be a match of survival for both teams. We need the three points as not many matches are left for us,” said Bencherifa.

Bagan have been in poor form with just one win out of seven I-League matches so far this year.

They suffered a disappointing 0-2 home defeat against table-toppers Bengaluru FC last Sunday, a game where there was hardly any positive intent from the players, especially during the second half.

Moreover, a fracas between goalkeeper Shilton Paul and Karim preceded the result, which only magnified problems in the Bagan camp.

At present, the coach, too, is under the scanner and a loss on Sunday may well signal his ouster from the roster of next season.

“It’s all about survival now. I would try to make sure that all the players fight till the last whistle,” Bencharifa said.

United SC are yet to register a victory under technical director Subrata Bhattacharya and are also on a 12-match winless streak in the I-League. Their last win came way back in November, but they did earn a crucial point against Mohammedan Sporting two weeks ago.