| Mohun Bagan’s (from left) Basudeb Mondal, Jose Ramirez Barreto, George Ekeh and Dulal Biswas gear up for Saturday’s tie vs Mohammedan Sporting at the club ground Friday. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: With the fate of the CFL Super Division championship hanging on the knife’s edge, both Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting are set to go with all guns blazing in their final encounter Saturday to ensure a place in the play-off final against East Bengal. While a draw will be enough for Mohammedan Sporting, Mohun Bagan need nothing but a win to survive in the league.
However, Mohammedan Sporting dismissed any thought of playing safe on the match-eve. “We will play an open game and go all-out for a win,” coach Mohammed Habeeb remarked.
The team’s star striker Ghulam Rahim Nabi was finally released from the ongoing AFC under-20 meet camp late at night and his presence is certain to take a lot of pressure off Habeeb’s shoulders. The coach hinted that his team will play in the 4-4-2 formation. Habeeb also said he was relieved at Nabi’s availability.
Asked to assess his rivals before the crunch game, Habeeb said, “ Though Barreto is dangerous upfront, for me the man to look out for will be Basudeb Mondal. “I shall be aiming at cutting the supply-line between Basudeb and Barreto.”
Habeeb, however, fears that a 16-day lay-off since they last played a match, might not hold the team in good stead. “This long wait for our next match can be a factor and we’ll have to be careful in the first 15 minutes.”
On the other hand, Habeeb’s counterpart in Mohun Bagan, Subrata Bhattacharya, made no bones about his option that his team will go all out Saturday. “We have come back well and now have no option but to go for the kill.” Subrata said that he will start with Barreto and George Ekeh upfront with emphasis on a reinforced midfield.
“It won’t be a factor whether Nabi will be there or not, they are a really good side.” When asked whether he is worried after letting in two goals in the last match against Tollygunge Agragami, the coach said, “We are capable of scoring five after letting in four, so it’s not at all a worry.”
Barreto, meanwhile, was confident on the eve of the needle encounter. “It’s good to be back among goals, but what is more pleasing that I have been able to help the team in need.”
Mohun Bagan: Bivash Ghosh; Santosh Singh, Kajol Bhattacharya, Dulal Biswas, Lolendra Singh; Jayanta Sen, Gourab Dutta, Basudeb Mondal, Umesh Sharma/Sunil Chettri; Jose Ramirez Barreto, George Ekeh.
Mohammedan Sporting: Prasanta Dora; Reaj-ul-Mustafa, Hussain Mustafi, Insan Ali, Amandeep Singh; Rahim Nabi, Khemtang Paite, Amit Das, Habeeb Adekunle, Dipendu Biswas, Abdulateef Seriki.