I-League: Mohun Bagan Look to Continue Winning Run Against Shillong Lajong
Plagued by injuries, former champions Mohun Bagan will look to continue their winning run when they face Shillong Lajong FC at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.
Mohun Bagan players train at their club ground. (Image: AIFF)
Kolkata: Plagued by injuries, former champions Mohun Bagan will look to continue their winning run when they face Shillong Lajong FC at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday.
Having been held by Minerva by a last-minute equaliser in the season opener, Mohun Bagan have bounced back in style with a derby win followed by a 5-0 thrashing of Churchill Brothers at Barasat.
But their big win saw four players sustain injuries on the artificial turf of Barasat.
Japanese Yuta Kinowaki (collarbone) has been ruled out for about a month with Arijit Bagui also on the injured list.
Sony Norde and Ansumana Kromah still have hopes of making it into the squad despite training through pain on the eve of the game.
"It is a very important match for us. It is not a major injury. I believe in myself. With the treatment, I feel much better. I believe I can play tomorrow. I watched Lajong's game. They have a good team. They run a lot," Kromah, who scored and assisted a goal in the last game, said.
The opposition in its rank has Kromah's Liberian countryman Lawrence Doe.
"Lawrence Doe is my senior player. When he started playing I was small. He left the country as his style was not liked by national coach. He is an idol," Kromah commented on his fellow Liberian.
Gurjinder Kumar and Shilton D'Silva will look to reprise their roles as Nikhil Kadam has been kept as standby to Norde.
After opening his Mohun Bagan account with a brace, the spotlight will be on Aser Pierrick Dipanda Dicka who welcomes his old side as he steps out onto the pitch to play against the team he won the Golden Boot last season with 11 goals for the Reds.
On the other hand, Shillong Lajong stayed back in Kolkata after their 1-5 defeat at the hands of East Bengal, looking to make amends.
"It was just a bad day in the office for Lajong last game. They had collected six points from first two matches.
They are dangerous from set pieces. They are a well-balanced side."
Praise for the young team came from the opposition camp through Sen who said:"Lajong's 1-5 defeat is not an advantage for us. We need to be cautious and look for three points."
Lajong head coach Bobby Nongbet felt the pressure riding on his head.
"It's a bit of pressure for us against Mohun Bagan considering how they played against Churchill. In the last match, we conceded two early goals in first and second half which made difficult to come back.
"East Bengal played well. But if Sony Norde and Kromah don't play, it is an advantage for us," the coach said.
Aiman Al-Hagri is back fit but Abdoulaye Koffi is unavailable for selection as the onus will be on the Lajong defence to keep the star-studded Mohun Bagan attack quiet.
Lawrence, who spoke on the eve of the game returned the compliments by Kromah and also praised the 2015 Hero I-League champions.
"For me, Kromah is the most dangerous player. But all are good; they are a very good side. I respect Sony too -- he is a very good player. For me, no team is different. They are a big team. They are very good we respect them," he said.
Only one point separates the two teams and it will be the Mariners who will be licking their lips to jump back into pole position by securing three points from the matchup.
Action will shift from Barasat back to Salt Lake Stadium and Sen said: "For us, every ground is challenging. Our record in Barasat is good. We are always prepared wherever we play. We have to be consistent."
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