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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

AFC Cup: Games galore, Mohun Bagan Super Giant eye balance 

For Bagan head coach, the game is as big as a 'final'

Sayak Banerjee Salt Lake Published 22.08.23, 11:04 AM
Liston Colaco of Mohun Bagan Super Giant during a news conference at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday.

Liston Colaco of Mohun Bagan Super Giant during a news conference at the Salt Lake Stadium on Monday. Santosh Ghosh 

Juan Ferrando is pleased with the Spain women’s football team’s maiden World Cup glory. But the Spaniard isn’t at all engrossed with that as what matters to him much more is Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s AFC Cup playoff stage contest against Abahani Limited Dhaka at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.

For the Mohun Bagan head coach, the game is as big as a “final”. If Mohun Bagan win this game, they are assured of a spot in the main round of the competition.

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“It’s a very important game for the team. So, we have to give 100 per cent of our effort as we need to qualify for the main round,” Ferrando said on Monday, the game eve, at the Salt Lake Stadium.

With Mohun Bagan having entered the quarter finals of the Durand Cup, their schedule too has become a cramped one. Following Tuesday’s game, they play the Durand quarter final game in a few days’ time, giving players little rest or time to settle down.

“It’s difficult to talk about balancing (the schedule). We didn’t get enough time at the pre-season as there were early matches, some of them important ones. We tried to do our best every game and tomorrow’s one too is like a final for us.

“Thereafter, we’ll start getting ready with our Durand Cup game.

“But it’s difficult to talk about the balance bit because it’s not easy to adjust when there are some players playing in the local league, some in Durand and some in
the AFC Cup.

“So, at present, we’re just thinking of winning the matches we play and after the Durand and AFC Cup, we’ll get more time to prepare for the rest of the season,” the head coach said, trying to explain the current situation of his team.

Dimitri Petratos, who usually operates as a withdrawn forward, appears to be a doubtful starter for Tuesday’s game as he’s still down with conjunctivitis and didn’t train on Monday. Ashique Kuruniyan, too, had a similar indisposition although he did attend the day’s training session.

However, attacking midfielder Liston Colaco has a greater chance of featuring in the starting XI than Ashique.

Thirtyfive-year-old former Mallorca player Hector Yuste, one of the picks of club technical director Antonio Lopez Habas, may also get a start against the Bangladeshi side.

The defender, who had arrived on Saturday, underwent full-fledged training on the eve of the match which makes his inclusion in the XI a possibility.

Abahani had lost 1-3 to Mohun Bagan a year ago in the competition. They have taken three players on loan for a month, a point that has been raised with the Asian Football Confederation by Mohun Bagan.

But according to Bangladesh Football Federation sources, Abahani have gone by the book.

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