Calcutta: Mohammedan Sporting go into Wednesday’s Tata Federation Cup quarter final clash against Salgaocar with a major handicap: they will be without Satish Bharti.
The dependable Bharti has been a tower of strength at the heart of defence. And, with new technical adviser P.K. Banerjee bringing in fresh ideas, Bharti was equally impressive as a defensive medio in the Federation Cup campaign-opener on Saturday.
Expulsion in that game versus ITI for two yellow-card offences straightaway rules Bharti out for the Salgaocar clash. “Yeah, it will be a loss for us but we’ll have to cope,” coach Mohammed Habeeb said, adding that Iqbal Khan will start in Bharti’s place.
“We’ll be under pressure (from the fans) till we score, but they can play freely,” Habeeb said to establish the point that playing at home may not necessarily be an advantage.
It was Bungo Singh who fetched Mohammedan Sporting the winner against ITI, but Habeeb and ‘PK’ will surely be looking to the strike trio of Dipendu Biswas, Syed Rahim Nabi and Sheikh Sanjib to deliver. Sanjib is likely to operate from a little deep.
Salgaocar, in fact, are wary of Dipendu’s striking prowess. “Their forwardline is very good and Dipendu stands out, especially with his superb heading skills. Our defence has to be on guard.”