Bagan to start from scratch against Salgaocar
Fresh from the AIFF reprieve, which overturned their 2-year ban, Mohun Bagan are ready to restart their I-League campaign as they prepare to come face to face with Salgaocar Football Club at Duler stadium, Mapusa, on Sunday. The match kicks off at 3.45pm.
Mohun Bagan are back in the I-League but will have to start without any points in their kitty. They will be ‘blank’ when they meet Salgaocar, coincidentally, a team that current coach Karim Bencherifa trained at the start of the season.
“This is a very important match for us because we are starting 10 points behind the team which are ahead of us at the bottom of the pool. Salgaocar are 11 points ahead. This is a crucial match because we are both fighting to save relegation,” said Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa.
Bencherifa is no alien to fighting relegation as a couple of years ago he pulled Salgaocar out of the relegation zone after joining the team midway. His team had the second-best finish in the second leg.
Bencherifa said his team is “focused” and “ready” to take on the might of Salgaocar.
“We have had a good camp and all of the players are available. They are fit and raring to go,” said Bencherifa.
The only player to miss out the high-profile clash will be Nigerian striker Odafe Okolie who has been suspended for two matches.
Salgaocar, according to local reports, are preparing to field three new foreign players. Brazilian striker Josimar Martins, Singapore midfielder John Wilkinson and Nigerian sharpshooter OJ Obatola have been talked about as the three new foreign additions for Salgaocar.
Salgaocar lost the first round clash 0-3 in Kolkata but coach David Booth will feel confident that he can turn the corner in familiar conditions and with a much improved squad at his disposal.
Salgaocar, placed 12th on the league table, are just one point above the relegation zone. [NT]