Fresh from winning the opening I-League outing, Mohun Bagan will seek to enhance its tally when it takes on eastern neighbour Shillong Lajong FC in the second home match at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Friday.
With the National Green Tribunal having allowed the staging of I-League matches at the stadium located in an eco-sensitive zone in the city, Mohun Bagan will have the pleasure of playing its home matches on natural turf once again. The team had played the previous match at the Vidyasagar Stadium in Barasat which hosts an artificial turf.
On the team front, Bagan will also be bolstered by the arrival of Haitian forward Sony Nordy, who arrived here a day ahead of the team’s second outing. This makes the Mariners the favourite at home, especially against a young side like Lajong, which lost the previous match 0-3 against Bengaluru FC while visiting the latter’s home on Saturday. Managing a side filled with youthful recruits, Lajong coach Thangboi Singto fielded eight under-22 players and was justifiably overwhelmed by a professional side like Bengaluru.
Singto will have a similar challenge taking on the 2015 champion in the second outing. “Mohun Bagan is a strong side and has a lot of quality players. The presence of good foreigners [and] Jeje (Lalpekhlua) will be a big challenge for us,” Singto said.
Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen has set the task for his team, which is regaining the title after the break of a year. “My players know they have to win most of the matches to get the I-League title back. This not easy but we started this year’s campaign with a win against Churchill (Brothers) and our focus now will be to hold the momentum,” Sen said.
Bagan may go for an all-Indians attack by starting with Jeje alongside Balwant Singh, the goal-scorer in the last match. This may happen if Sen is not able to field Scotsman Darryl Duffy, who skipped practice while complaining of fever.
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