The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A shiver down Bagan spine in Taejon

Calcutta: Mohun Bagan might have made a splash in the Indian Ocean whipping Valencia in the second round of the AFC Champions League qualifier, but Taejon Citizen of South Korea will be a different proposition altogether. And if the strength of the opposition was not enough, the weather in Taejon is far from hospitable.

“It’s extremely cold out here, I don’t know how the boys will cope with it,” Mohun Bagan coach Subrata Bhattacharya told The Telegraph on the eve of their third-round qualifier Tuesday.

“We’ll go out in full-sleeves, sweaters and gloves, but this kind of weather is something my boys aren’t used to. It would have been better if we could come a couple of days earlier,” he said.

Another huge concern for the Bagan team is the absence of Bhaichung Bhutia and the injury to Jose Ramirez Barreto. “Barreto has a niggling injury and it isn’t healing fully,” a worried coach said. “Also, Bhaichung is such a class player and we are bound to miss him in the game.”

The Bagan coach hasn’t been able to gather any information whatsoever about the opposition, excepting that they have three World Cuppers in their side. “They have a Senegalese forward and two others who have played for South Korea when they reached the World Cup semis. Therefore the strength of the team is easily imaginable. But I couldn’t get hold of any videotapes of their matches,” Bhattacharya quipped.

However, he made it clear that whatever be the strength of the opposition, he won’t be negative in his tactics. “Yes, I’ll go with five men in the back-line, but that doesn’t mean that we intend to play defensively,” he said. Though the coach himself didn’t divulge, in all probability, Bagan will start with Sumit Sengupta in the defence along with Lolendra Singh, Yakubu, Satish Bharti and Dulal Biswas.

Utility man George Ekeh has been planned to play in the withdrawn centre-forward position with Barreto as the lone man upfront. “I’ll also ask my sidebacks to go in overlap whenever possible.” Bhattacharya further added that he’ll ask his players to go according to the situation. “My first attempt will be to snatch a point, but if that’s not possible, we’ll have to ensure that too many goals are not conceded.”

TEAM (Likely)

Rajat Ghosh Dastidar; Dulal Biswas, Satish Bharti, Yakubu, Lolendra Singh, Sumit Sengupta; Jayanta Sen, Basudeb Mondal, George Ekeh, Rennedy Singh; Jose Ramirez Barreto

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