Even before the kick-off, Mohun Bagan’s season-opener has brought enough embarrassment for the 2015 champion.
The shifting of Bagan’s home venue from the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium to the Vidyasagar Stadium here due to the National Green Tribunal’s order was a double trouble for the ‘host.’
Apart from facing a cribbing visiting side Churchill Brothers, which could not train at the venue on the eve of the match, Bagan hardly had the home advantage without any practice time on the synthetic turf here.
With both sides on an even keel, the team that adapts quickly to the conditions and gets its combinations right should dictate terms on Sunday evening.
On paper, Mohun Bagan, the 2016 I-League runner-up and Federation Cup winner, looks more sorted than its Goan rival.
With Eduardo Ferreira, the defender from FC Pune City in the 2016 Indian Super League, joining Darryl Duffy, Sony Norde and Katsumi Yusa, Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen should not have any problem in selecting his four foreigners.
The team, which loves to play with intensity, would take inspiration from the backing of its die-hard fans. They braved the rains to celebrate Bagan’s success at its Maidan tent here a few months ago and would love to see the green-and-maroon brigade seize initiative against Churchill.
Two-time champion Churchill Brothers was thrown out of the I-League after failing to meet the club licensing criteria in 2014 and made a return this year in unusual circumstances. According to keen followers of the game, at present Churchill may not be at its best.
With Trinidad and Tobago World cupper Anthony Wolfe yet to join the side, the Goan outfit will have no overseas recruits for its first match. It will depend on its local talent, such as defender Rowilson Rodrigues and midfielders Nicholas Fernandes and Brandon Fernandes, to keep Bagan at bay.
Amidst all challenges, coach Alfred Fernandes would be keen to see Churchill make a positive start to its I-League campaign.