I-League: Bagan looks to consolidate top spot

The defending champion is presently perched atop the team ladder with 15 points from seven games whereas Sporting is at the fourth spot with 11 points from seven outings.

Mohun Bagan players during a practice session.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

City heavyweight Mohun Bagan would look to consolidate its position at the top of the leaderboard and keep its unbeaten record intact this season when it hosts Goan giant Sporting Clube de Goa in an I-League contest at the Barasat stadium here on Saturday.

The defending champion is presently perched atop the team ladder with 15 points from seven games whereas Sporting is at the fourth spot with 11 points from seven outings.

The visitor is coming into the encounter with a 3-2 win over Mumbai FC, where Okolie Odafa scored a brace. The Nigerian marksman will make a return to familiar territory as he had plied his trade for Bagan from 2011 to 2014. He will probably be the biggest threat that Sanjoy Sen and his men would have to deal with as he can split the defence open with his skills and pace.

After the win against Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan was held to a 1-1 stalemate by Shillong Lajong in the last match. It was Jeje Lalpekhlua who restored parity for the defending champion in that game, but it was left to rue the opportunities that were squandered.

Saturday's game would provide the perfect platform for the Mariners to grab full points and put pressure on teams like Bengaluru and East Bengal who are hot on its heels.

With striker Cornell Glen being out-of-form for the past few matches, Sen would look to the likes of Jeje and Haitian midfielder Sony Norde for the goals.

Defence has been Bagan's weak link this season and has a tendency to concede goals in the second half. The side needs to be extra careful with Odafa around. Sporting midfielder Nicholas Fernandes too has netted a few this season and could be another danger that the Bagan rearguard has to deal with.

Although a point in its bag from an away game would do Sporting a world of good, managing the full three points would be a bonus. The visiting side is expected to try and sit back and wait till the likes of Odafa get a chance on the counter attack. But then again sitting back and trying to keep out the likes of Norde and Glen can be difficult.

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