| Choi Eun-sung, the goalkeeper of Taejon Citzen and member of the South Korean World Cup team at the Mohun Bagan ground Monday.
Calcutta: With the chances of qualification for the main phase of the AFC Champions League all but gone, Mohun Bagan will only try to gain some much-needed confidence when they take on Taejon Citizen of South Korea in their return-leg match Tuesday.
The mood in the home camp on the eve of the match reflected just that, one where the footballers are looking ahead for some morale-boosting performance for the ongoing National League.
Coach Subrata Bhattacharya categorically pointed out that the difference between any Indian club and Taejon Citizen is a minimum of three goals. “They are far superior to us in every department of the game. We’ll try for a draw, but that, too, is a remote possibility,” the coach said.
Bhattacharya also made it clear that his main insistence will be on defence. “We’ll have to increase men in defence and see to it that we concede less goals.”
When asked whether he’ll concentrate on any one Taejon player, the coach said: “The way their left back scored a goal against us at Taejon dribbling past four players was simply amazing. It’s pointless to try and keep anyone in check.”
And if the strength of the opposition was not enough, the injury to a number of key players is keeping the coach worried. Left-half Rennedy Singh is out with an ankle injury sustained during their National Football League match against Churchill. So are left-back Lolendra Singh, with malignant malaria, and goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar.
Isa Musah Eroje, Bagan’s Nigerian defender, is also not hundred percent fit. Bhattacharya, however, cannot afford to rest him. Even the star duo of Bhaichung Bhutia and Jose Ramirez Barreto are also nursing injuries.
However, both will feature in Bagan’s starting line-up. And it’ll be more of a personal goal for Bhaichung. “Basically we’ll have to ensure damage control, but the match is important more on a personal note.” Maybe, this is the stage from where he can look ahead for a future in the top Asian clubs during the coming season.
One good news for Bagan is that formalities regarding the signing of Palash Karmakar, the defender from Bhratri Sangha has been done, and he will be available.
On the other hand, the Taejon team is not completely free of trouble. They had an indifferent season where they finished last among ten teams in the K-League. “The financial condition of the club is not exactly in great shape,” coach Lee Tae-ho said.
The Taejon team is also not free from injury worries. Seven of their players are suffering from niggling injuries, with main play-maker Lee Kwan-woo and striker Kim Eun-jung out of Tuesday’s fixture. It can be a bit of a let-down for the fans as Jung was the top-scorer for the club with eight goals in the league. Their Senegalese striker also couldn’t make the trip following visa problems.
Though they have already announced that scoring more than six goals in the match will be in their agenda, the coach sounded respectful about Mohun Bagan. “May be the extremely cold conditions at Taejon got the better of them. I’m sure they’ll give a better account of themselves on their home turf.” He also added that Barreto was quite impressive in the first-leg.
The coach remarked that he has already started working on their next engagement. “We’ll have our task cut-out against Shanghai FC of Japan in the next round,” he added.
Mohun Bagan (likely): Amit Singha Roy; Dulal Biswas, Isa Musah Eroje, Satish Bharti, Palash Karmakar; Jayanta Sen, Basudeb Mondal, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Gourav Dutta; Bhaichung Bhutia, George Ekeh
Taejon Citizen (from): Choi Eun sung; Kim Jung soo, Kim chan Joong, Kim Sung keun, Bae Sung jae, Kim Dae soo, Chang Chul woo, Kim Young kwen, Kim Kook jin, Kim Young joo, Lee Kwan woo, Kim kwang sun, Lee Kwang jin, Gong Oh kyun, Lee Chang yup.