AFC Cup play-off: Mohun Bagan faces the Valencia hurdle

Mohun Bagan drew the first leg match 1-1 in Male barely a week ago and now has the comfort of the home support to pick up a win and progress to the group league, where it will join the likes of Bengaluru FC, Maldivian Maziya and Abahani Krirachakra of Dhaka.

Mohun Bagan fans cheering for their side in an I-League match.   -  I-League Media

Mohun Bagan enjoys the advantage of playing at home as it looks to seal a berth in the group stage while hosting Club Valencia of Maldives in the second leg of the AFC Cup play-off, here at the Rabindra Sarobar on Tuesday.

Mohun Bagan drew the first leg match 1-1 in Male barely a week ago and now has the comfort of the home support to pick up a win and progress to the group league, where it will join the likes of Bengaluru FC, Maldivian Maziya and Abahani Krirachakra of Dhaka. With the AFC Cup fixtures clashing with I-League calendar, Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen has been resting players in past three matches. The Mohun Bagan gaffer, who did not travel to Maldives in the first leg, is expected to the follow the same in the upcoming fixture.

The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw with Scotsman Darryl Duffy fetching the lead for Bagan before Valencia's Godfrey Omodu equalised. “I feel that the I-League is more difficult than the AFC Cup,” Sen hinted on the possible move but quickly added, “our focus right now is getting into the next stage of the AFC Cup. Now that we did not win the first leg, it is a must-win game for us now.” Quite a few of the Mohun Bagan regulars may not be making the start while some may be rested. Among the foreigners Duffy is likely to be rested while Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa may not make the start. This leaves Haitian Sony Norde and Brazilian Eduardo Ferreira to take up the fight for Bagan.

Valencia’s coach Ahmed Mujuthaba had words of respect for the opponent, which has a tradition running back more than a century. “Mohun Bagan is a good and strong side. But we will look to attack as we are a young side and need a win to stay in the tournament,” Mujuthaba said. Valencia, which arrived at the city couple of days earlier to acclimatise, has three Nigerian - Chinonye Prince, Godfrey West Omodu and Chizi Kaka - for selection.