I-league: Mohun Bagan likely to miss Sony, Balwant in tough Aizawl test

Mohun Bagan in all likelihood will be missing its premier player Sony Norde and forward Balwant Singh as it takes on a formidable Aizawl FC at home in an I-League encounter, here tomorrow.

Sony Norde has a niggle in his knee, and coach Sanjoy Sen doesn't want to risk the striker.   -  M.Vedhan

Mohun Bagan looked at a growing list of injuries as it prepared to meet a resurgent Aizawl FC, in the seventh round of the I-League at home in Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Saturday.

Beginning with its Haitian attacker Sony Norde, Bagan’s injury list included key names like forward Balwant Singh, midfielder Kean Lewis and Equatoguinean defender Eduardo Perreira. Another defender Raju Gaikwad is also nursing an injury making coach Sanjoy Sen wonder about the possible line-up.

Aizawl FC, which has put a vastly improved showing under coach Khalid Jamil so far in the season, is equal on points with Bagan but has played a match more compared to the host, which has 13 points from five matches. Mohun Bagan, which beat Colombo FC 2-1 in the AFC Cup preliminary stage in its previous outing, has remained unbeaten in the season so far. This compounds the problem for Sen, who will have to find the right mix from the bench to get the full quota of points on board.

“This is the first team in the team’s history that we have injuries in so many positions apart from the goalkeeper,” Sen said. What will be reliving the host is the return of midfielder Pronay Halder and defender Kingshuk Debnath from injury lay-off. Bagan was held to a goalless draw by DSK Shivajians in the last I-League outing at the latter’s home and Sen would be looking at the likes of Scotsman Darryl Duffy and Jeje Lalpekhlua, who will be forming the Bagan attack, to being home the points.

Aizawl, the Federation Cup finalist, had held the current league leader East Bengal in the latter’s home at Barasat in the opening round of the tournament. It has lost only once as a visitor when it went down 0-2 against Chennai City FC before returning to winning form against DSK Shivajians at home barely a couple of days ago. The visitor has the lone injury worry in the Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Amnah, who remains doubtful with an injured toe.

“The team has settled down to a rhythm and we are improving with every game. I give credit to the boys in the manner they have adapted themselves to the plan in such less time,” Jamil said ahead of the match.

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